Thierry Neuville says he did “absolutely” everything he could to try and finish second on Rallye Deutschland, and that it was “quite annoying” to miss out on the runners-up spot by just 0.1 seconds.
Neuville slipped to fourth overall in Saturday's final test, when team-mate Dani Sordo went second quickest in the sister Hyundai i20 WRC.
However, with only four seconds covering second, third and fourth going into the final leg, it was all still to play for, and two further stage wins on Sunday helped ensure he took a rostrum, beating Andreas Mikkelsen by 6.8secs, but just falling short of overhauling Sordo, although Neuville did have the consolation of winning the Power Stage – and by some margin, 2.5secs up on Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala.
“It is quite annoying that I have lost [out on] second place to Dani,” Neuville said. “I think everybody could listen, four letters I shouted at that moment [when I saw Dani had beaten me]. I saw him approaching the line and I thought that we were okay, but he was faster [overall]. We were just disappointed.
“I really tried to give everything during that [final] stage. I knew it was going to be nearly impossible to catch three seconds in that stage, especially during all our fights this weekend. Somehow, I knew I had done a very good stage. When I saw the time of Andreas as well, I said, maybe it is possible and finally, disappointed, but on the other hand it is a good feeling as well because it was a good weekend.”
“I am still happy to take third place and to share a double podium,” he continued later. “It's a special team result after a complicated weekend in unpredictable conditions.
“We had a strong final morning, showing our potential with two stage wins, including the Power Stage. It wasn't quite enough to get past Dani for second but it could not have been any closer.
“The three Power Stage points are a nice reward [too] so thanks to the whole team for giving us a car that could be so competitive this weekend. A few rallies in a row now in which we have good results. Always missing out by small margins on a podium or, like here, on second place, but we are back in the fight, which is nice.
“Now, our attention turns to Corsica!”
Asked what the toughest challenge of the weekend was, he replied: “I don't know, but it was the first time I have made many mistakes here in Germany. Normally, I don't do many mistakes here, I know the stages very well, I feel comfortable, but this weekend it was the weather conditions and sometimes I was pushing a bit too much and I was overdriving.
“I went wide a couple of times and that is where I lost most of the time. Otherwise, we could have been in the fight for the win.
“We had the power steering problem [on Saturday in SS10] as well, I lost 10 seconds there. Still a good weekend for us, it could have been worse. So, to answer your question, weather conditions were the most difficult and the tyre choice wasn't easy at all.”