Dakar Rally News: Thierry Neuville Seeks Extra Seat Time for Upcoming Gravel Events

    Thierry Neuville, the current points leader in the World Rally Championship (WRC), is eager to secure a national rally outing or additional seat time in his Hyundai i20 N Rally1 car to prepare for the upcoming fast gravel rallies in Latvia and Finland.

    Neuville’s desire for more time behind the wheel comes after a frustrating Rally Poland last week, where his points lead over Toyota’s Elfyn Evans decreased from 18 to 15 points. The Belgian rally driver admitted that he struggled with new engine mapping on his i20 N, as well as the disadvantage of starting first on the road, which resulted in a fourth-place finish.

    “On Saturday I missed two extra points by one tenth [to Rally1 debutant Martins Sesks] and on Sunday I missed an extra point by three tenths [to Evans], so it is really frustrating,” Neuville told after the event.

    Neuville has previously found fast gravel rallies challenging, but he made significant progress on those types of roads last year, highlighted by second-place finishes in Estonia and Finland. However, with testing restricted to 21 days per manufacturer across a year, the Belgian driver is seeking opportunities for more outings behind the wheel to prepare for the upcoming events.

    Hyundai’s WRC programme manager, Christian Loriaux, acknowledged the team will look into Neuville’s request, stating:

    “It is not in the plan at the moment, but there is always a chance, but we will have to look into it. Budgets are not infinity, and we need time and the test car available. But for sure it is not to be excluded.”

    The World Rally Championship heads to Latvia and Finland in the coming weeks, and Neuville’s search for extra seat time could be crucial in maintaining his lead in the championship standings. With the battle for the title heating up, the Belgian driver’s ability to adapt to the demanding gravel stages will be a key factor in the outcome of the season.

    ๐Ÿ”— Source