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Second at WRC Rally Estonia felt like a “victory” for Neuville

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The Hyundai driver emerged as the perfect of the remainder behind a dominant rally winner Kalle Rovanpera last weekend, ending 52.7s behind the impressed Toyota driver who recorded 13 consecutive stage wins.

Whereas the hole to the winner was vital, Neuville delivered arguably his greatest exhibiting on quick, easy gravel phases since ending second at Rally Finland in 2013.

The floor has proved to be a weak point for the Belgian in current seasons and significantly final yr when behind the wheel of the i20 N Rally1 Neuville completed a distant fourth, nearly 4 minutes behind winner Rovanpera, in Estonia.

The Hyundai was significantly troublesome to tame on these roads as then team-mate Ott Tanak, a four-time Rally Estonia winner, might solely end 1m55.7s adrift in third.

Nonetheless, Neuville’s says his Hyundai staff has made vital strides in evolving its automotive within the final 12 months, benefiting from the squad’s Finland check base and the enter of latest team-mate Esapekka Lappi.

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“Truly [second] seems like a victory as a result of Kalle was out of the competitors this weekend,” mentioned Neuville.

“It feels good. One of the best factor is I felt snug within the automotive and I used to be in a position to drive with my standard rhythm at such a quick occasion. This offers me plenty of motivation for Finland [next week].

“The automotive has developed. We had been far off final yr and Ott was even struggling to be near the rostrum. We have now automotive and we’ve got been doing plenty of testing on Finnish roads, that are comparable, and I am getting extra used to it.

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Staff Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Picture by: Romain Thuillier / Hyundai Motorsport

“With Esapekka, we work in the identical course and we had the identical set-up all weekend as a result of the steadiness, grip and pace we wish is identical. As a staff, we evolve a lot faster than earlier than.”

Neuville’s tempo was backed up by Lappi ending third forward of Toyota’s Elfyn Evans, whereas its third entry pushed by Rally1 debutant Teemu Suninen completed a powerful fifth.

Hyundai staff principal Cyril Abiteboul believes his staff has made a “large step” ahead in comparison with final yr, however insists extra enhancements are required to problem Toyota.

“We can’t take something away from the Toyota which is nice right here [in Estonia] however I believe we’ve got executed step,” Abiteboul instructed Autosport.

“I used to be not right here final yr however we had been merely nowhere, and we had Ott in our staff and he struggled massively, however what we’ve got proven right here is that we’ve got made an enormous step.

“We should be making larger steps if we need to change into a direct menace to all Toyotas and that’s one thing we have to work on for the rest of this season and for subsequent yr.”

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