After finishing in fourth place a few days ago at the Rallye de France, Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul are now looking for their first WRC podium finish. As was the case in New Zealand, the Belgian crew will be driving for the Qatar World Rally Team in the absence of Nasser Al-Attiyah.
Another Citroën DS3 WRC will be entered for Luca Pedersoli and Matteo Romano.
Nine months after getting underway in Monte-Carlo, the 2012 World Rally Championship enters the home straight: two weeks after Alsace, the WRC competitors head for Sardinia for the championship’s penultimate round.
Confirming the progress they have made with each race, Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul finished the Rallye de France in fourth position, claiming six stage wins in the process. Having achieved the best result of their short career, the Citroën Junior World Rally Team crew can now set their sights even higher. “My target is to finish on the podium at least once,” confirmed the Saint-Vith driver. “The result achieved in France has boosted our morale. We proved that we can go quickly without making any fatal errors. We managed to achieve this by working relentlessly with the team, but we are still learning. Not a day goes by at a rally when we don’t learn something!”
Although Thierry has never competed in this rally in its WRC format, he did take part in the Rally Sardegna in 2010, when it was part of the IRC: “It was only my third race in a Super 2000 and I finished fourth overall. I know more or less what to expect at this event. The course is very technical, and the gravel on some sections can be pretty rough. Just like with all WRC rallies, we’ll have to manage the race intelligently.”
Although the Rally Sardegna was not originally part of Thierry’s schedule, in the end, he has been able to take part thanks to Nasser Al-Attiyah: “I am very pleased that Thierry will be driving the Qatar World Rally Team’s car in Sardinia. I am in the middle of preparations for the Dakar Rally and have to take part in a lot of testing, which means I cannot compete in the last two rounds of the championship. My WRC programme therefore ended in France and I would like to thank Citroën for having given me the opportunity to race with them this season. 2012 was a truly incredible year for me! Above all, more than any particular result, what I’ll remember was the way the team welcomed me and the support I was given to help me to improve. What I have learned will be useful in the future, starting with the Dakar Rally.”
The no.7 Citroën DS3 WRC will be driven at the Rally de Espagna by Dutch driver Hans Weijs Jr, who finished as runner-up in the 2010 Junior World Championship in a C2 Super 1600.
A second Citroën DS3 WRC prepared by Citroën Racing Technologies will be entered in Sardinia. It will be entrusted to the Italian crew Luca Pedersoli/Matteo Romano. Runner-up in the 2004 European Championship, the Brescia-born driver took a break from driving before returning in 2009. Winner of the 2011 ‘Trofeo Rally Asphalto’ in a C4 WRC, Luca sees this year’s Rally Sardegna as the highlight of his competitive season in 2012. “It’s an immense pleasure for me and a great honour to be able to drive what is currently the best WRC at my home rally,” he confirmed. “I don’t have much experience on gravel and so it’s difficult to set a precise target. I first drove the car as part of a day’s testing in the south of France and I was immediately won over by its abilities. I know Sardinia well, but my recollections of it from a rallying point of view are pretty distant, because I haven’t raced there since competing in the Rally Costa Smeralda Terra Sarda on two occasions in the early 2000s. We’ll see what happens, but above all, I’m determined to enjoy driving this fabulous car.”