It was a spectacular showdown and was won by 0.6sec after a three-day battle. Only two rounds have been decided by a smaller margin in the WRC’s 45-year history. Thierry Neuville could hardly believe his eyes, following closely with co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul their rival Elfyn Evans’ run in the last stage.
Both Neuville and Evans threw caution to the wind on the rough mountain tracks in that distance. Early split times showed Evans more than three seconds ahead. But as his grip lessened near the finish, the Welshman’s Ford Fiesta swiped a bridge, handing Thierry a second consecutive win.
“Watching that was the worst time in my life”, said Thierry Neuville, after viewing Evans’ run from the finish. “I gave it everything I had, but I didn’t have the best tyres because I had been pushing hard for two stages already.”
“The team asked me to continue pushing if I caught some time in El Condor, and I really pushed in the next Mino Clavero stage”, the Belgian told wrc.com.
“In the morning I knew there was a chance, but the stages would be slippery. We caught only two seconds in El Condor. I knew it was going to be tough, but Mina Clavero was the key.
“We pushed very hard there, the car was working really nicely. We made some small set-up changes before the stage and I just felt comfortable. The pace notes were amazing as well so I pushed and the time was great. It was clear I wanted to finish the rally but at the same time when you start the last stage 0.6sec behind the leader, you have to give it a go.”
Thierry Neuville: “It has been an exciting but crazy rally from the start, so to come away with the victory is fantastic”
The driver mentioned that after the difficult start in Argentina he would have been happy with second, but was still really content with victory.
“It’s a special feeling to win again”, the Belgian continued. “It has been an exciting but crazy rally from the start, so to come away with the victory is fantastic. We wanted to build up our momentum after Corsica and this was the perfect way to do just that. To have the Power Stage win is just the icing on the cake and gives us a very important boost in the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championship. We could not have asked for more.”
— Michelin Motorsport (@Michelin_Sport) 30 April 2017
— Thierry Neuville (@thierryneuville) 30 April 2017