Thierry Neuville, 2014
|Born||16 June 1988|
St. Vith, Belgium
|World Rally Championship record|
|Active years||2009–2010, 2012–present|
|Co-driver|| Nicolas Gilsoul|
|Teams||Citroën Junior, Qatar, Hyundai|
|First rally||2009 Rally Catalunya|
|First win||2014 Rallye Deutschland|
|Last win||2018 Rally Italia Sardegna|
Thierry Jean Neuville (born 16 June 1988) is a Belgian rally driver, he is currently competing in the World Rally Championship. His co-driver was Nicolas Klinger from his debut until the end of 2010. Klinger was replaced by Nicolas Gilsoul for the first 2011 IRC rally, Monte Carlo. Since 2014, Neuville and Gilsoul have driven a factory-backed Hyundai i20 WRC for Hyundai Motorsport. He has finished as runner-up in the World Rally Championship four times, in 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Neuville was born in the German-speaking municipality St. Vith. He drove his first rally when he was 19 years of age, in 2007, his debut rally car was an Opel Corsa he piloted on an event in Luxembourg. For the 2008 Rally Finland, he was entered in a Ford Fiesta ST and would have made his WRC debut, but he did not start the event. Instead, he made his WRC debut at the 2009 Rally Catalunya with a Citroën C2 R2.
Neuville drove a self-entered Citroën C2 at the 2010 Junior World Rally Championship, collecting a win, a third and three retirements to finish seventh in the standings. He also competed in six rounds of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge with a semi-works Peugeot 207 S2000, scoring a third place at Ypres and a fourth place at Sardinia.
In 2011, Neuville competed full-time in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, again driving a semi-works Peugeot 207 S2000. He took his first two victories in the Tour de Corse and Sanremo. He finished the season in fifth place.
Citroën signed Neuville for the 2012 World Rally Championship, driving selected races in a Citroën DS3 WRC for the Citroën Junior Team. Neuville replaced Nasser Al-Attiyah in the Qatar World Rally Team for New Zealand as Al-Attiyah was unable to participate. Another outing for the Qatar team in Sardinia meant Neuville contested the full season, driving eleven races for the Citroën Junior Team and two for the Qatar World Rally Team. The Belgian scored points in six races, with fourth at Alsace as his best result, and finished seventh in the championship.
Neuville joined Qatar for the 2013 season, now driving a Ford Fiesta RS WRC. He retired for the third time in Rallye Monte-Carlo, after going off track on the third stage. In Rally Sweden, he got off the mark by scoring a fifth place on a surface he lacked experience on. Then, in Mexico, he was one of the men of the rally, getting his maiden podium finish (third place). Round four, Portugal, was disappointing, since he finished out of the points, after returning to the rally in Rally 2 after retiring from fifth place. Fifth place was again for Neuville, in Argentina. Then came a streak of podiums which turned Neuville into the surprise driver of the season: third place in Greece and second place in Italy, Finland, Germany and Australia.
At Rallye Deutschland, which Neuville considers his home rally, the Belgian was in second place during the second day, trailing Jari-Matti Latvala just for a few seconds. But in a surprise twist, Latvala left the road and Neuville did the same thing right after him. Neuville led the rally for a stage, but eventually, and in the second to last stage of the day, he lost the lead to Dani Sordo. The next stage of the day was cancelled, so the drivers entered the final two stages separated by just eight tenths of a second. The penultimate stage was won by Sordo, which left the Spaniard three seconds ahead of Neuville in the overall classification. Both gave everything in the PowerStage and Neuville eventually had a small off in the very last section of the stage, therefore losing the chance to win. He ended in second place, 53.0 seconds behind Sordo.
At Rally Australia, Neuville was in third place, 25.2 seconds behind Mikko Hirvonen, before the PowerStage. With Sébastien Ogier comfortably in the lead, he needed to finish in second place overall and in the PowerStage in order to still have a mathematical chance at the title. Hirvonen punctured in the stage, allowing Thierry to finish in second overall and second in the PowerStage. After this dramatic finish, a frustrated Ogier and Neuville were the only ones still with a chance for the title, although Ogier only needed to score a single point in the remaining three rounds. Ogier eventually secured the title in the next rally in Alsace by taking a point on the Power stage, which ran as the opening stage of the rally. A podium for Neuville in the last rally of the season in Wales secured his spot as second in the championship, ahead of Latvala.
On 5 November 2013, Hyundai Motorsport GmbH confirmed it had signed Neuville on a multi-year deal to lead its entry into the WRC from 2014. After the halfway point of the 2014 season Neuville had scored 2 podiums for Hyundai and ran sixth in the overall standings.
Thierry Neuville rolled six times during the shakedown of the ADAC Rally of Germany, stopping in the vineyards. The car was repaired and Thierry Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul finished the rally in first position. That was Thierry Neuville and Hyundai Motorsport GmbH's maiden win in the WRC. Previous year's winner Dani Sordo, who was now his teammate, finished second, so it was not just Hyundai's first win, but also a double victory.
Neuville started the 2015 season strongly, finishing fifth and second in Monte Carlo and Sweden respectively. He finished eighth in the third round in Mexico but had been battling for lead with Ogier during the first day before going off the road.
The remaining events of the season were disappointing for Neuville. After a crash on the last stage of Rally Argentina, his confidence took a knock and he could only manage one more podium, which came in Italy. His teammates, Sordo and Hayden Paddon, outperformed Neuville during the last events of the season but he still managed to finish above them in the standings. He finished the season in sixth place.
The 2016 season started with a podium in Monte Carlo, as Neuville finished third with a new rendition of the i20. But the podium was followed by a mechanical issue in Sweden and crashing out in Mexico, meaning he would score no points in those events. In Portugal, while lying fifth, he ran out of fuel while on a stage caused by a miscalculation by Hyundai and his car ended up stranded.
But in Sardinia, Neuville was back in form. By winning nine of the 19 stages, he won the rally and finished roughly 25 seconds ahead of a pushing Jari-Matti Latvala. After the rally, Neuville paid tribute to his former mentors, Philippe Bugalski and Jean-Pierre Mondron. Bugalski, who died in 2012, was born on the same date Neuville won the rally, while Mondron had died two weeks before the rally.
On 5 October, it was confirmed Neuville would extend his deal with Hyundai until the end of 2018. Despite rumours suggesting him considering other options, he decided to stay with the Alzenau-based team for 2017 and 2018 when new regulations for the competing cars would enter.
He finished the season with five podiums out of the last five events, securing the position as runner up in the championship with 160 points.
The season however started badly for the Belgian, finishing the first two rallies in 15th and 13th, having led both rallies before crashing. He finished the power stages in both rallies in first and third, still scoring eight points. After finishing the Rally Mexico in third place Neuville won the Tour de Corse and the Rally Argentina, becoming a world championship contender against Sébastien Ogier. In Portugal, both fought for the victory and Ogier won. Then, in Sardinia, where he had won in the previous season, Neuville only finished third, however, ahead of Ogier who finished fifth. His next victory came in Poland, and then, in Finland, Neuville only finished sixth, however, after his arch rival Ogier retired, it was enough for Neuville to take the championship lead for the first time in his career.
Heading into the 2017 Rallye Deutschland, Neuville's goal was to retain the championship lead. However, a small impact on the first stage of the second day was enough to damage suspension and transmission of his car which resulted in having to retire from the day. Neuville was third before the accident and in front of Ogier who was fourth after the first day. He aimed to salvage points on the Power stage but could only manage sixth fastest, meaning he would score no points for the first time in 2017. Ogier retook the championship after finishing third and opened a 17-point lead over Neuville. Lightning then struck twice for the Belgian, as a lackluster performance in Spain ended when he clipped a rock on stage 16 and broke the steering, leaving him pointless for the second rally in a row and dropping him to third in the standings behind Ott Tänak.
Neuville retook second place in the driver's standings in Wales, as he finished the rally in second position while Tänak finished sixth. Unable to match the pace set by rally winner Elfyn Evans, who used DMACK tyres, Neuville was the fastest of the drivers competing on Michelin. He finished ahead of Ogier, who was third, but the two extra points Ogier scored on the Power stage meant the Frenchman was crowned world champion for a fifth consecutive time.
At the final rally of the season in Australia, Neuville took his fourth win of the season. The event was characterized by changeable conditions but after initial leader Andreas Mikkelsen suffered a double puncture, Neuville held off Latvala who was his closest challenger for most of the rally, the Finn eventually crashed on the last stage. The win meant Neuville secured the runners-up spot in the standings for the third time in his career.
Just as in 2017, Neuville's season started with a mistake at the season opener in Monte Carlo. On the first stage of the rally he lost control of his i20 and got stuck in a ditch, the excursion cost the Belgian four minutes and ruined his chance of a rally win. As the rally progressed, he fought his way up the standings and eventually finished fifth.
In Rally Sweden, he was the fifth on the road at the opening day, which meant he had more grips than the drivers who start ahead of him. That gave him a chance to fight for the victory. Eventually, he took his seventh win and first on the snow in the WRC, though he had an electrical glitch with his Hyundai's paddle shift gearchange system in Saturday morning and made a few small mistakes. After winning the rally, he led the championship by ten points, ahead of defending world champion, Sébastien Ogier. The win meant Neuville became the third non-Nordic driver to win the Swedish Rally.
The lead of the standings was short-lived, as Ogier won the next rounds in Mexico and Corsica. In Mexico, Neuville endured many technical issues with his i20 Coupe and achieved sixth as a result. While in Corsica, Ogier extended his lead in the championship further when Neuville finished behind him in third.
Neuville beat Ogier to the podium in Argentina when he finished second, but the rally was won by Tänak. After Tänak's mixed start to the season, the Estonian's win in Argentina meant Tänak had emerged as a title contender along with Neuville and Ogier.
In Portugal, Neuville secured his eight win in the WRC and inherited the lead of the championship when both title rivals Ogier and Tänak hit trouble and scored zero points. Along with four extra points from the Power stage, Neuville's victory lifted him to first place in the standings, 19 and 47 points clear of Ogier and Tänak, respectively. In the next event, Rally d'Italia Sardinia, Neuville won again. Ogier had led most of the Sardinian rally but Neuville eventually beat the Frenchman to the win on the very last stage with a margin of seven tenths of a second, equalling the third closest win in the WRC which was set by Neuville in Argentina, 2017.
Neuville's advantage in the standings was reduced when his suspension broke in Turkey while he was leading, with Tänak eventually winning the event, and when he slid off the road in the next rally in Wales from second place. He lost the lead in the standings to Ogier when he finished fourth at the 2018 Rally Catalunya while Ogier was second, the result meant Ogier headed Neuville by three points in the championship.
Heading into the 2018 Rally Australia, Neuville, Ogier and Tänak had a chance to win the championship. Neuville punctured on the first day and dropped down to last place of the World Rally car drivers which meant he had to run first on the road on the second day. As a result of sweeping the loose gravel roads by running first, making up time proved to be difficult for the Belgian and he could not pass Ogier who was sixth, which was also enough for Ogier to secure the title if the rally was to end without any change of positions. On the final day, Neuville hit a tree and lost a wheel of his i20 Coupe and ultimately had to retire from the event, ending his title bid. Soon after Neuville's retirement, Tänak also damaged his car and had to retire which subsequently handed the title to Ogier. Neuville finished as runner up in the standings for a third consecutive time and his fourth time overall.
|1||41st Rally Bulgaria||2010||Nicolas Klinger||Citroën C2 S1600|
|1||54ème Tour de Corse-E.Leclerc||2011||Nicolas Gilsoul||Peugeot 207 S2000|
|2||53º Rallye Sanremo||2011||Nicolas Gilsoul||Peugeot 207 S2000|
* Season still in progress.
|2010||Thierry Neuville||Citroën C2 S1600||TUR
|2009||BF Goodrich Drivers Team||Peugeot 207 S2000||MON||BRA||KEN||POR||BEL
|2010||Peugeot Team Bel-Lux||Peugeot 207 S2000||MON||BRA||ARG||CAN
|2011||Peugeot Team Bel-Lux||Peugeot 207 S2000||MON
|Season||Team||Starts||Victories||Podiums||Stage wins||DNF||Points||Final result|
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- "WRC Rally Italy: Neuville beats Ogier to take last stage win". autosport.com. Autosport. 10 June 2018. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
- "Neuville signs new Hyundai deal". wrc.com. WRC. 12 September 2018. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
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- "Neuville loses ground to WRC title rivals with Rally GB off". autosport.com. Autosport. 6 October 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
- "WRC Rally Spain: Loeb takes dramatic win as Ogier grabs points lead". autosport.com. Autosport. 28 October 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
- "WRC Rally Australia: Ostberg leads, Neuville title bid hits trouble". autosport.com. Autosport. 16 November 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
- "WRC Rally Australia: Tanak leads, but Ogier controlling title fight". autosport.com. Autosport. 17 November 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
- "Ogier, Tanak to fight for WRC title as Hyundai's Neuville retires". autosport.com. Autosport. 18 November 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
- "Rally Australia: Tanak retires with one stage left - Ogier wins WRC". autosport.com. Autosport. 18 November 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
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