Wilson: There’s more to come from Thierry
M-Sport boss tips young Belgian after impressive run in Sardinia
Malcolm Wilson has tipped Thierry Neuville for great things in the second half of the WRC season following the young Belgian’s impressive performance in Sardinia at the weekend.
Neuville, 25, drove his Ford Fiesta RS to second on Rally Italia, his best result to date in the World Rally Championship and also the best result for his Qatar World Rally Team.
The Belgian rounded off an excellent weekend by going second fastest on the Power Stage to collect an additional two points and move third in the drivers’ championship standings.
“I think he proved a lot in Sardinia,” said Qatar team principal Wilson. “Thierry’s second place shows just how confident he has become behind the wheel of the Fiesta and I’m sure there’s more to come from him when we move into the second half of the season.
“He’s proven he has the consistency, and I think this weekend he took another step forward by proving that he also has the speed to challenge for the top positions. He thoroughly deserves to be third in the drivers’ championship.”
Neuville said he began the rally with the modest target of finishing all the stages and building his confidence. That changed midway through Saturday’s competition, however, after stiffening his car’s suspension and altering its brakes enabled him to set two fastest times.
“Before I couldn’t imagine getting second place in Sardinia because it’s probably the rally I hate the most!” said Neuville. “But this time I enjoyed the stages very much. The conditions were very different and the stages were smoother.
“On the first stage I had no rhythm and I struggled and I didn’t take any risks so I already lost 20 seconds. After the set-up changes I just felt comfortable and I drove on a good rhythm without taking any risks, and I was setting fastest times – which was a surprise to even Nicolas [Golsoul – co-driver] and me.
When we saw that we could match the pace of Sebastien [Ogier] and Jari-Matti [Latvala] without taking any risks we decided to continue with the same rhythm.”
Neuville said his next target is his first victory, but he isn’t expecting that to happen on the next WRC round in Finland. “The Finnish drivers will definitely be quicker there, and Sebastien [Ogier] as well. In Germany probably I will try to push a bit more.
“I have a lot more experience on tarmac and have always been a lot quicker there so I think if we have a good test and the conditions are OK, then we can definitely have a good run there.”
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