Neuville’s Impressive Rally Keeps Championship Lead Despite Evans’ Misfortunes

    (Portimao, Portugal, 14th April 2023) In the first gravel event of the 2023 British GT Championship, Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville showcased an exceptional performance, defying expectations to finish on the podium and extend his lead in the title race.

    Neuville had initially downplayed his chances of a strong result, citing the disadvantage of opening the gravel roads on Friday. However, an impressive display on the opening day, including a stunning stage win on the Arganil test, limited his time loss to just 18.1 seconds, keeping him firmly in contention.

    The Belgian driver steadily climbed the leaderboard, sitting third overall heading into the final day, benefiting from the retirements of rally leader Kalle Rovanpera and Takamoto Katsuta, who had held third place. Neuville then capped off his impressive display by finishing second in the Super Sunday standings and securing the Power Stage victory, earning an additional 24 championship points – 18 more than his title rival Elfyn Evans.

    “Nobody expected us to be on the podium here, and to increase the lead in the championship was nearly impossible,” Neuville told Autosport. “But somehow, we made it with a strong Friday run and then consistent performances on Saturday and Sunday, pushing hard for those extra points which have made the difference.”

    Unfortunately for Evans, the weekend proved to be a challenging one. The Welsh driver was forced to limp to the end of the penultimate stage in EV mode after a stone damaged his Toyota GR Yaris’ cooling system, ending any hopes of securing Super Sunday points. Earlier in the rally, Evans had also struggled with the balance of his car and had to drive to pacenotes delivered via mobile phone after his co-driver, Scott Martin, accidentally left the pacenote book at a stage control.

    “The six points is the only positive. Of course, you want to forget the weekend, but we have to learn from it and be ready for the next one,” Evans said. “It is still early in the season, and anything can happen at any point. For sure, 24 points seems big now, but it can turn around very quickly.”

    The British GT Championship now heads to the next round, where Neuville will look to maintain his momentum and extend his lead, while Evans and the rest of the field will be eager to bounce back and close the gap in the title race.

    ๐Ÿ”— Source