SS6: Podium bid over for Neuville

Car damage forces Citroen’s rising star into retirement


By Franck Drui

9 March 2012 - 21:45
SS6: Podium bid over for Neuville

Thierry Neuville’s bid for a podium finish on Rally Guanajuato Mexico is over after the Belgian ace crashed his Citroen Junior World Rally Team DS3 WRC midway through the test.

Neuville was battling for third place with Mads Ostberg but is reported to have taken a wheel off his car. “It was in a narrow place between two kerbs,” said Ostberg.

In the battle for first place Sebastien Loeb has moved ahead of Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen by a margin of 2.2s. However, neither driver had an answer to the pace of Jari-Matti Latvala, who was quickest through the stage by 6.9s in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC to move into sixth overall.

“I was flat out but Jari-Matti was seven seconds faster,” said Loeb. “I’m pushing very hard. I don’t say I’m scared about Latvala but we have 300 kilometres to go so we have to push.”

Latvala, who is trying to recover the time lost when he suffered a broken suspension arm on stage five, said: “The car is perfect now but the mechanics had to do a lot of work in service to make everything okay. Of course it’s a big disappointment to get problems when you are leading the rally. But you need to keep the faith and keep fighting.”

Ott Tanak reported altering his driving style due to the onset of understeer and the need to preserve his tyres in the rising ambient and ground temperatures. M-Sport team-mate Evgeny Novikov said a gearshift problem that hampered him in the morning had been cured.

Chris Atkinson said his decision to carry two spare tyres rather than one had caused his Monster Fiesta to understeer. He was ninth fastest and is now up to eighth overall.

Nasser Al-Attiyah said he had softened the suspension settings of his Qatar World Rally Team Citroen. He set the eighth fastest time.


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