Even if the WRC is taking a break, Thierry Neuville won’t have much time off! This weekend, the Belgian and his Citroën DS3 WRC will be among those topping the bill at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Then on 20-21 July, Thierry and his co-driver, Nicolas Gilsoul, will take part in Rally Estonia, an event that provides an ideal training ground for their visit to the country of the 1000 lakes.
Thierry Neuville has scored points in the last four rallies and is currently lying eighth in the Drivers’ World Championship ratings, and is also the best rookie of the 2012 season. He drove two fault-free races in Greece and New Zealand and he will tackle another monument in the world of motor sport at the beginning of August – Rally Finland.
In view of this, Citroën Racing has decided to replace the test session initially planned by participation in Rally Estonia (20-21 July). “Finland is certainly the most difficult event for a driver who doesn’t come from the north of Europe,” says Benoît Nogier, director of Citroën Racing Technologies. “From Sébastien Loeb to Kimi Räikkönen, Citroën Racing has entered its drivers in additional rallies to those in the WRC to help them prepare for the specific challenges of the terrains in question. As replacing a test session by taking part in this rally doesn’t result in extra cost we felt that Rally Estonia was the best possible training for Nicolas and Thierry.”
“With its crests and high-speed blind corners, Finland is like no other rally,” says Thierry. “In New Zealand we showed that we could run at high speeds without making any mistakes. I feel that I’m improving race after race, but I mustn’t relax and I must keep on working. It’s a great help to take part in a similar rally that’ll give us an idea of what to expect in Finland. We can work on all the following points: discover new stage in racing conditions, refine my note-taking system and optimise the car’s setup, especially as the rally has over 160-km special stages. The fact that other WRC drivers like Mads Østberg, Ott Tänak and Martin Prokop are also taking part will also give us an idea of where we stand in terms of performance.”
Before that, Thierry will cross the Channel to take part in the Goodwood Festival of Speed. This big event in the south of England attracts over 180 000 spectators and includes all the different branches of motor sport. It will give the Citroën Racing driver the opportunity to have some fun at the wheel of the DS3 WRC. “I’ve always kept a close eye on this event. Last year Nicolas and I thought about going there as ordinary spectators so it’s great to be present as a participant,” smiled the Belgian. “I’m going to drive the DS3 in the hill climb and the rally stage. It’ll be an excellent opportunity to give the crowd some thrills during a laid-back weekend.”