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Neuville: Hyundai call to retire Tanak in Rally Poland was a “mistake”


World Rally Championship points leader Thierry Neuville believes it was a mistake for Hyundai to retire Ott Tanak’s car after stage 12 at Rally Poland.

Hyundai elected to retire Tanak’s i20 N after Saturday morning’s loop to prepare to challenge for the 12 points on offer on Super Sunday.

The decision came with Tanak already out of the fight for victory and Saturday points after an unavoidable collision with a deer forced him to retire from stage two on Friday.

Tanak rejoined the rally on Saturday morning acting as road sweeper and another car ahead of Neuville and team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen in the road order.  

With Tanak absent from the afternoon stages, Neuville moved up a spot in the road order. The Belgian, who made a small error in stage 15, ultimately ended the day finishing fifth, 0.1s behind Rally1 debutant Martins Sesks, and lost two championship points in the process.  

“It was definitely not a help for us, that’s for sure,” Neuville told Motorsport.com when asked about the decision to retire Tanak.

“I mean, each car you can have in fun cleaning the road is an advantage, especially in a championship fight where every single point really counts. I think it was a mistake, but this is what it is.

“It could have been valuable kilometres as well for the car, trying different things without any question.”

Cyril Abiteboul, Team principal Hyundai World Rally Team

Photo by: Austral / Hyundai Motorsport

Hyundai team principal Cyril Abiteboul explained the rationale behind the decision.

“The thinking is that with the current regulation of the super rally and we were so far behind that there was absolutely nothing to gain,” Abiteboul told Motorsport.com.

“We started [Ott] in the morning because we wanted to do a proper shakedown of the car after the repair.

“We also wanted to give a bit of relief to Thierry by having an extra car doing a bit of cleaning in the morning when it mattered, but in the afternoon obviously the benefits are lower, and it was very clear that, you know, nothing would be happening that would really help Ott in the championship or in or in the starting order for tomorrow.

“So, when that is the case, we prefer to get the crew to recover a bit and focus on the preparation for Sunday, because that has to be for him the biggest charge.”

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