Thierry Neuville has rated his 2015 World Rally Championship campaign as 'difficult' and sees next season as a way to get a fresh start with the new Hyundai i20 WRC machine, despite not being guaranteed a drive with the manufacturer's first team.
The Belgian driver has endured an underwhelming second season with Hyundai despite repeating his sixth place finish in final WRC drivers' standings and taking two podium finishes at Rally Sweden and Rally d'Italia respectively.
A tricky end to the year saw Neuville relegated to Hyundai's second WRC squad, Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team, at the season finale Wales Rally GB with Hayden Paddon promoted alongside Dani Sordo to fight for the all-important manufacturer championship points in the battle for the runner-up spot against Citroen and M-Sport Ford.
Citing a lack of confidence as the reason for his demotion, Neuville is hoping to put 2015 behind him even though he ended the year as the highest placed Hyundai driver.
“I'm really looking forward to the new season – my third with Hyundai Motorsport,” Neuville said. “It will be like a fresh start for me as 2015 was a difficult year for me where I had some bad luck and made some mistakes. I come out of it stronger and more motivated than ever.”
Neuville was present at the unveiling of Hyundai's new i20 WRC car which he's been getting to grips with alongside Sordo and Paddon.
All three have secured full seasons in WRC for 2016 but the team says it is going to be flexible with its driver line-up and adopt a rotation policy, meaning Neuville could once again find himself in the second string team.
The 27-year-old is not too concerned that any line-up switches will impact his performances with all three drivers in identical machinery and he is keen to add to his WRC rally wins tally after taking a maiden premier class victory with Hyundai at the 2014 Rallye Deutschland.
“I'm really eager to start the season with our New Generation i20 WRC,” he said. “The objective for us will be always the same, to be as close as possible to the top and hopefully be able to fight for some victories along the season.
"I have a lot of confidence in the new car, it's all new compared to the current version and I'm positive we will be closer to our main rivals.”