Flying parts, broken belt, flooded engine and blinding mud as a bonus: Thierry Neuville looks back on an afternoon of galleys

Thierry Neuville failed to reach the finish of the last special on the menu of this very complicated day on the Safari Rally.

Rising up to third place in the general classification before SS13, the Belgian driver, who already had to deal with a Hyundai i20 N Rally1 disfigured since the first special of the afternoon (the whole front face had flown away), was betrayed by the mechanics of his car before drinking the chalice to the dregs by hitting a tree.

“Another difficult day, whispered Thierry Neuville at the microphone of Olivier Gaspard, RTBF’s special envoy to Kenya. The morning had started well, and the afternoon too… until the second special of the afternoon: alternator alarm, broken belt. We did the impossible, Martijn and I, to try to fix it and be able to continue. We arrived at the end of the last stage. We left, and in a big puddle, the engine took on water, and we were stalled for four minutes trying to restart. Meanwhile, Oliver (Solberg, his teammate at Hyundai, editor’s note) passed, and it got mud everywhere. When we left, there was zero visibility. We slid straight into a tree, we stopped there. We still have a lot of work to do, that’s clear. The situation is difficult at the moment, and not only for me. But I won’t give up until the end. We will tackle all the problems with the hope that better days will come. Changes take time, we still have to show patience and keep working together.”

“We also lose many parts far too quickly, a repris TN. From the first special of the afternoon, after a few kilometers I lost the front bumper, the fenders at the front left and at the rear right, and I had almost no aerodynamics left. As a result, it was almost impossible to fight with the others. But with the weather, there was still a chance. But the engine and the water decided otherwise. But in the standings, it doesn’t change anything for us: we’re in fifth place, and we’re going to finish this rally. The objective now is going to be to go for victories and to work on the reliability and the performance of the car, so that one day we can fight on equal terms.”

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