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Neuville wants more Hyundai WRC seat time to prepare for Latvia, Finland


World Rally Championship points leader Thierry Neuville is keen for a national rally outing or extra seat time to help prepare for upcoming fast gravel rallies in Latvia and Finland.

Neuville revealed his desire for more time behind the wheel of his Rally1 i20 N after his points lead over Toyota’s Elfyn Evans decreased from 18 to 15 points during a frustrating Rally Poland last week. 

The Belgian has previously found fast gravel rallies difficult, but last year made significant progress on those types of roads, highlighted by second-place finishes in Estonia and Finland.

However, Neuville admitted that he struggled with new engine mapping on his i20 N in Poland on top of the disadvantage of starting first on the road. As a result, he finished fourth overall, picking up 14 points.

“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 Motorsport.com after collecting six points on Saturday, three on Sunday and five in the Power Stage.

“We came here with new engine maps, and I didn’t feel comfortable since the beginning with it, so I lost some time.

“And I was cleaning the road, so a lot of things came together basically.”

With testing restricted to 21 days per manufacturer across a year, Neuville is seeking opportunities for more outings behind the wheel.

Thierry Neuville, Hyundai World Rally Team

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

The testing limit set by the FIA is designed to cut costs, but teams have circumvented the restrictions by fielding cars into national rallies outside of the WRC calendar.

Hyundai has already taken this approach this season when Andreas Mikkelsen contested an asphalt rally in Alba, Italy in April, while Ott Tanak is set to drive the i20 N Rally1 in an invitational class at Rally Estonia next week.

“I would like to [do a private rally], and I will definitely ask my team for an opportunity to drive before the next rally,” added Neuville.

“My last time testing in Finland [at Hyundai’s test base] was on snow in February. The second last test was cancelled and the other one, was only for Andreas and Ott.

“I definitely need more seating time on those fast roads.”

Hyundai’s WRC programme manager Christian Loriaux says the team will look into Neuville’s request.

“It is not in the plan at the moment, but there is always a chance, but we will have to look into it,” he told Motorsport.com

“Budgets are not infinity, and we need time and the test car available. But for sure it is not to be excluded.”

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