Neuville blames pacenote error for WRC Croatia crash

Neuville blames pacenote error for WRC Croatia crash

Although Thierry Neuville’s attempt to win the WRC Croatia Rally was cut short after his crash, he believes it did not spell doom for his chances of winning the World Rally Championship.

Thierry Neuville’s hopes of winning WRC Croatia and extending his lead in the World Rally Championship points standings were dashed by a crash into a bank on Sunday morning, blaming a pacenote error for the incident.

Two days earlier, the Hyundai squad leader had been dueling hard with Elfyn Evans, his main title rival but as fate would have it, they both hit a bank on the same stage, one minute apart. Neuville’s i20 N Rally1 was severely damaged as a result, which disadvantaged him through the final two stages.

He would quickly summarize what transpired after the stage saying co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe issued a late pacenote, giving Neuville little time to respond appropriately.

However, Neuville avoided blaming his co-driver after the rally was over and the heat of the battle had finally subsided. Wydaeghe, with whom he’d gotten into an altercation in the car the day before, wasn’t mentioned by name.

“Mistakes happen, whether it’s the driver or the co-driver,” Neuville said in an interview with DirtFish. “It was a tricky situation. The note came a little bit late and there was nothing I could do.

“That’s part of the job. Of course, the frustration was really high immediately, but in the end, I don’t point the finger on somebody. I do mistakes and co-drivers can do mistakes.”

Although he was disappointed to lose what could have been one of his best wins, Neuville was content to match rival Evans’ 19 points while maintaining his six-point lead.

“Definitely there is a frustration but on the other hand we have been well rewarded yesterday after our great drive on Friday and Saturday [to score 18 points] and they were important points and they have made the difference,” Neuville told Motorsport.com.

“Despite not scoring many points today we were still the third best performer and equal with Evans and only lost one point to Ott [Tanak]. We can’t say it was a disaster.

“The stage [where we crashed] was really tricky but what happened, happened. I tried my best to avoid it, but we were just far too late and when I got the pacenote I immediately hit the brakes, but the corner was so much tighter and there was nothing I could do.

“It [the car] was undrivable [without the rear wing], I couldn’t expect it, but it was a disaster. I was driving fast on the last stage and I lost 30 seconds.”

Corsica’s tarmac roads were formerly regarded as a co-driver’s worst nightmare as the WRC has not seen the so-called rally of 10,000 turns in the last five years.

As far as navigators are concerned, Croatia is as challenging as it gets; if something went wrong anywhere, it was most likely to happen here.

“They had a very tough job this weekend, like on all Tarmac events,” Neuville added. “It’s very challenging for them, lots of information, especially here on a high-speed event with compressions, crests and so on.

“A mistake is quickly done. I mean, mistakes happen here and there, but most of the time, there’s time to react. But there, it wasn’t.

“We paid the price, but I always say we have two in the car. I don’t want to blame anyone. It’s just what happened.”

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