Hyundai WRC driver Neuville explains Rally Sweden accident
|By David Evans||Saturday, February 11th 2017, 20:14 GMT|
Hyundai World Rally Championship driver Thierry Neuville says his retirement from the lead of Rally Sweden was down to bad luck rather than pushing too hard.
The Belgian was 46 seconds ahead when he damaged the steering on his i20 Coupe WRC during Saturday night's superspecial stage.
Sweden is the second event in succession Neuville has retired from the lead, after damaging rear suspension when he hit a bridge parapet in Monte Carlo last month.
"It was a slow corner and I turned at the wrong moment," Neuville said.
"The tyre hit something, a truck tyre [part of the inside barrier] and I lost the steering. At that point, the rally was finished.
"It would be frustrating if I did a mistake and destroyed the car, but I was doing the perfect job and Nicolas [Gilsoul, co-driver] as well.
"We can't blame ourselves, we were missing some luck, even if this is another mistake, you can see from the images that we were not pushing too hard.
"We had spent all Saturday with a deliberate strategy to take things steady and to stay in control of the rally.
"We didn't want a repeat of Monte, but that's exactly what we got.
"I am so disappointed for the team, for Nicolas, and myself but we have to put it quickly behind us."
Neuville will return for the final day under Rally2 regulations, with a focus on landing five powerstage points.
"We can't dwell on such things, however frustrating," he added.
"We know we have the pace to win rallies with the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC.
"We have the confidence and I am sure the results will come."
Hyundai team principal Michel Nandan was unimpressed with the turn of events, with the team's remaining drivers Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon fourth and seventh entering the final day.
"It's easy to say that this is rallying, however when you have a 43-second lead these things shouldn't happen in a super special stage," he said.
"It's disappointing for everyone in the team, and of course for Thierry and Nicolas after what had been another commanding performance.
"Until that final stage, they had done everything right - controlling the rally and actually extending their lead.
"The old saying is true: it's not over until it's over."
Neuville's accident paves the way for a three-way fight for victory on Sunday, with Toyota's Jari-Matti Latvala and M-Sport pair Ott Tanak and Sebastien Ogier split by 16.6s.