Neuville confident in the car, Loeb: We are at least still in...

Neuville confident in the car, Loeb: We are at least still in the game, even if not for victory

Sebastien Loeb
photo: Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul lead the Hyundai’s charge in second overall, just two seconds from Citroen’s Sébastien Ogier. Norwegians Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jæger-Amland hold a provisional podium position in third overall, while Hyundai Motorsport newcomers Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena are fifth.

“What a day!”, Neuville exclaimed

“We had a good morning loop. The first stage was cancelled but we made the right tyre choice, and could catch some time back. Everything worked well: I was happy with my driving, the pace notes were really good and I was confident in the car. Tyre choice has been key all day, as is to be expected at this rally.”

“The start of the afternoon loop didn’t go as planned, as we approached a corner too fast and had to use the escape road. We lost around 19 seconds of time, which was frustrating because that mistake cost us the chance to hold the lead. We kept pushing hard and finished the day with a stage win to reduce the gap to Ogier. It certainly makes for an exciting rally! Thanks to our gravel crew for a great job today, which has allowed us to attack with full confidence. There’s still room for improvement.”

Mikkelsen was also pleased with his day saying it was easy to make mistakes in those conditions.

“Tyre choice has been tough for everyone. We were helped with the cancelled stage first thing this morning but in the end things turned out well. In the afternoon, it was hard to tell where we would compare with so many tyre variations being deployed. It’s a bit of cat and mouse in this rally, where you have to work out where you can find the advantage, or minimise the disadvantage. I think we’ve done that well today. We’re only halfway through the stages, so there’s a lot of hard work still ahead of us”, he added.

Loeb took two stage wins on his first complete day in the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

“It’s not so easy to win stages in the World Rally Championship so this is a nice feeling. We’ve had a pretty good day overall. We are at least still in the game, even if it’s not for the victory. In the opening loop, we opted for slick tyres, so we were helped by the first stage being cancelled. In the afternoon, it was a similar situation where we knew we would lose time on the first stage but then gained back in the others. The feeling in the car has been encouraging so we aim to continue with this rhythm on Saturday.”