Neuville’s fuel pump issue casts doubt on chances of a Safari Rally podium

Neuville's fuel pump issue casts doubt on chances of a Safari Rally podium

Thierry Neuville’s chances of finishing on the podium at Safari Rally Kenya are now in doubt after the Hyundai driver plummeted from second to fifth place overall due to what appears to be a fuel pump issue.

Even more unsettling, Thierry Neuville claims that the fuel pump issue that crushed his ambitions of finishing on the podium in the WRC Safari Rally Kenya was not exclusive to the event.

The World Rally Championship points leader moved up to second place on Saturday morning with Toyota’s Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta trailing behind him after suffering punctures.

But Thierry Neuville’s hopes of finishing on the podium were shattered when his Hyundai i20 N ran out of fuel, forcing him to frequently stop while there were two further instances of the car running out of internal combustion power and stalling before finishing the stage in EV mode.

Neuville ended up losing over ten minutes while touring the afternoon loop after failing to resolve the issue that Hyundai claimed was linked to the fuel system.

The Belgian lost ground to title rival Evans, who finished the day in fourth place overall in the Saturday classification, and dropped from second to fifth +11m48.6s behind leader Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera.

Neuville seemed unhappy in the service park after the race given that he has been experiencing issues at the Safari Rally Kenya for the last four years running.

“I don’t have a lot to say to be honest,” he said. “Obviously, it was visible that the car wasn’t running and somehow we couldn’t solve the problems, so we continued the whole loop like this.

“I’m really disappointed with the outcome when you put some much effort into that work and your preparations, and you don’t get the reward, and it is the fourth consecutive year we have been hit by trouble, it doesn’t feel very good.

“We kept fighting and we will keep fighting but obviously we gave seven points to Elfyn and five points to Ott [Tanak], so that is a lot of points we miss out. It is not related to Safari, it is not a Safari-related issue, which is even more frustrating.”

Overall, Neuville lost 2 minutes and 38.7 seconds to Takamoto Katsuta, the Soysambu stage winner, who took up the second spot he had previously lost to the Belgian.

Adrien Fourmaux has moved into the final podium spot. Fourmaux is one of the few drivers who has not yet experienced a single puncture or technical troubles. The M-Sport’s team front-runner is 45.6 seconds ahead of Elfyn Evans, who is in fourth place.

Despite his Soysambu drama, Neuville is only 20.2s behind Evans, so there is still a chance for him to recover.

If Neuville can complete Sunday’s stages, where an additional 12 points are available under the new points system for 2024, he will be eligible to receive at least eight championship points.

Neuville’s Hyundai wasn’t the only vehicle having issues on stage 11. Ott Tanak was having a hard time with visuals as dust filled the cockpit of his car with the sliding part inside his windshield retracting mid-stage and he finished down in 12th place following his Friday retirement.

Leave a Reply