10 March 2014
Rally Mexico: Neuville needed beer to get to end
A breakthrough result for the new Hyundai Shell World Rally Team in the 2014 Rally Mexico nearly didn't happen, Thierry Neuville revealed after the finish of the event on Sunday afternoon.
Hyundai achieved a double landmark this weekend with a podium for Neuville who finished in third place with co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul, and the team's significant accomplishment of getting both Hyundai i20 WRC cars to the end of the race after Chris Atkinson and co-driver Stéphane Prévot crossed the line in seventh.
But it had been a close-run thing for Neuville, who was nearly forced out of the race at the conclusion of the final stage by a radiator leak. Fortunately Neuville and Gilsoul were eventually able to fix the leak in the road section and make it safely back to the service park, enabling the drivers and the team to celebrate their well-earned podium result.
"We had a small hole in the radiator and we fixed it and got back here on time. It was very stressful but we stay calm," said Neuville, playing down the late scare.
"Honestly, I tried to stay calm and thought we are going to go back. But then I realised we have still 25 kilometres to go, then I thought maybe it was the end," he admitted. "Then we stopped the engine and the temperature went down and we thought it was okay.
"We had a hot temperature from the car and we realised that we needed to fix the problem," he continued, revealing that the solution the pair had come up with had driven them to drink.
"I tried to put something on the hole and fill the radiator with water and beer and we came back!" he laughed, revealing the secret of his crucial last-minute repair.
Overall, Neuville was ecstatic with the team's performance over the last three days of competition and delighted with the outcome.
"We are incredibly happy to have scored this podium result today and especially in a rally as demanding as Mexico," he said. "We kept our heads down and focused on delivering the best results we could in each stage without going over the limit.
"Our objective has always been just to bring the car home and finish the rally, so to take a podium is a really nice bonus for the team, who have worked so hard," he continued. "Having the first-hand experience of rally competition is so valuable for the team and the data we have gathered this weekend will be extremely useful in further development of the Hyundai i20 WRC and the team overall.
"We are delighted with this result and to have exceeded our targets," he noted. "It's been a real team effort and I'm proud of what we've achieved - even if there is much more to come!"
His delight was shared by Hyundai team principal Michel Nandan, who said: "Our team is still very young so this result is hugely significant for us.
"Not only have we finished one of the toughest rallies with both cars, but we have also scored a début podium in the process," he added. "It's fantastic!"
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