Neuville reveals “MacGyver” style WRC Safari Rally car repair

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The WRC points leader suffered a right-rear puncture towards the end  of stage three after clipping some loose rocks at the side of the road.

Neuville pressed on in the hope not to drop too much time, before his tyre exploded in sight of the finish. The Belgian reached the stage end losing 19.9s but the remains of the rubber had ripped a hole in the right-rear corner of his i20 N Rally1.

Prior to the final stage of the loop, Neuville and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe pulled over on a road section to enact a repair that included fashioning a device to clean dust from inside the car using a tree branch and a cloth.  

The pair were then forced to wear goggles to battle any dust that managed to creep inside the car while navigating through the final stage. The duo, without hybrid power, reached the finish sitting in sixth overall, 48.0s behind rally leader Kalle Rovanpera.

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“Three or four kilometres into the second stage of the morning loop we got hit by a puncture and then we tried to carry on as fast as we could,” said Neuville.

“Unfortunately, the tyre exploded 150 metres before the finish and destroyed the whole bodywork, so for the last stage we had do some MacGyver stuff to try and survive in the dust but in the end it wasn’t as bad as expected, and in the end we got through with no problem.

There was a lot of [road] cleaning this morning so there should be a little bit less disadvantage on that side but again there are lots of stones, so the risk of puncture is very high. I cross my fingers that we get through without problem,” he added when asked about this afternoon’s stages.

 

Neuville ended the morning loop only 4.9s behind title rival Toyota’s Elfyn Evans, who also endured a tough start to the rally. Evans battled understeer in his GR Yaris in addition to a slow puncture that occurred in the first stage of the day.

“It was not the rhythm or the feeling we hoped to have, let’s say,” said Evans, who intends to make tweaks to the set-up in midday service. “It was a tricky morning.

“It is mostly the feeling behind the wheel and the set-up, getting confidence to turn it is the big thing. But I think everyone has been saying the same thing, but it seems like I’m not dealing with as well as the others. We can be better I think.”

“We probably have to make reasonably small steps to hopefully improve it [the car] a bit. We are not going to revolutionise it over lunch time.”

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