The Hyundai driver headed to Greece sitting 36 factors adrift of Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera, however was in robust place to shut the hole after beginning Saturday with a 25.5s benefit over the third-placed Finn.
Neuville delivered a powerful efficiency over Saturday morning’s levels to steer Sebastien Ogier by 10.9s. Nevertheless, the Belgian’s rally unravelled when he hit a hole the road on stage nine that inflicted terminal damage to his suspension.
Having misplaced a possibility to assert no less than 25 factors for the win, at an occasion the place he headed a podium sweep for Hyundai final yr, Neuville now accepts his title bid is over for an additional season.
The duty to reel in Rovanpera now seems much more troublesome with the Finn main the rally on the finish of Saturday after Ogier’s exit following stage 12.
“Yeah for positive,” Neuville advised Autosport, when requested if his title hopes are over.
“The probabilities weren’t that massive however nonetheless with the consequence we have been doing right here, and if we completed like this, we might have elevated our possibilities a bit extra. However it’s what’s.
“I felt [the victory] was potential however clearly luck was not with us this weekend, so we attempt to neglect and look ahead. I don’t know what has damaged however one thing has damaged.
“We are going to push as a lot as we are able to within the Energy Stage however I feel it will likely be for our personal pleasure than the rest.”
Cyril Abiteboul, Crew principal Hyundai World Rally Crew
Photograph by: McKlein / Motorsport Images
Hyundai boss Cyril Abiteboul described Neuville’s retirement as “painful” and is but to grasp precisely what failed on his i20 N.
“There have been occasions within the season the place we have been aggressive just because our rivals have been weak or dealing with a troublesome scenario, however on this event I feel it was a simple win that was potential for us and in sight,” Abiteboul advised Autosport.
“This was a mix of the automobile attribute and the crew’s capacity, and the onerous work we put into the preparation. We additionally knew that this was an occasion the place we will be robust.
“It’s all the extra painful when one thing like this occurs. It isn’t as a consequence of lack of preparation, info or information, we now have, they usually have all of that. Destiny determined in any other case.
“We’re but to see precisely what half failed and the foundation explanation for the failure. We’d like to have the ability to maintain these issues [bumps in rallies], however we have to see the automobile to attract a conclusion.”