Categories: News

Thierry Neuville wins Rally ‘Il Ciocco’ in Italy

Thierry Neuville, together with co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe, turned out to be the fastest in the Italian Rally Il Ciocco.
Photo: Hyundai

During the opening match of the Italian rally championship, there was no measure for Thierry Neuville and his West Flemish co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe. The Hyundai duo left all local asphalt specialists well behind.

Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe had traveled to the region north of Lucca in Italy in preparation for the next World Cup round in Croatia at the end of April. The cooperation between the two is only three rallies old and could be improved a bit.

Neuvilles Hyundai teammate Craig Breen experienced that such a practice gallop is not without risks. The Irishman went spectacularly off the track during the fifth of ten chrono rides and destroyed his car. Fortunately, the crew was unharmed.

For Neuville, the Rally Il Ciocco was a bit more relaxed. His biggest problem was two dogs that ran onto the track during the fourth special stage. “Fortunately, I managed to avoid them both”, Neuville laughed afterwards.

Neuville and Wydaeghe accounted for more than half of the chrono stages with their Hyundai i20 R5, eventually taking the lead by 22.7 seconds over Italian Stefano Albertini (Skoda Fabia R5).

Martijn Wydaeghe: “Happy with victory, but we have to keep working”

The preponderance of Neuville and Wydaeghe was obvious. “We had to fight for it,” says Wydaeghe. “We knew that the Italian drivers were of a high level and it showed. The course was quite a challenge for both Thierry and myself. The grip was very low, not what we expected from such a competition. The grip in the mountains is usually higher. ”

The Rally Il Ciocco was not only an extra race on asphalt in the run-up to the rally of Croatia, it mainly served to allow Neuville and Wydaeghe to drive kilometers together to intensify their cooperation. “And that mission has worked out well,” says Wydaeghe, who gets a lot of questions about his new role as co-pilot of Neuville. “The basis is there, otherwise we cannot perform. But this is not just any game, this is top sport. When you perform at the highest level, every detail matters. This applies to the pilot, the co-pilot and the team. Every split second you can gain at this level is important. We have to push each other, I have to push myself and not be too easily satisfied but keep working. It takes time to respond to the habits that Thierry has cultivated over the past 10 years. Now that we’ve won, it’s not like I think we’re there. It is a constant process and we have to keep working. Even if we won the World Cup together, we would still not be there because even then we have to keep evolving.

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