Thierry Neuville came close to his first victory of the season by setting the fastest time in the penultimate special of the Acropolis Rally pushing his team-mate Ott Tanak to 29.3, but above all by receiving the instruction to “keep the positions “.
“We received the message before the start of this special that we had to secure our positions which there was no longer any reason to attack,” said Ott Tanak with a closed face.
Thierry Neuville, showed him a broad smile: “Fingers crossed. There is only one stage left. We are not going to take any risks in the last one.”
There is no doubt that discussions will still take place in the two hours separating us from the Power Stage. And in the end, it is perhaps the Korean leaders of the brand who will have the last word. And we know that they don’t like to reverse positions. Thierry Neuville had learned this to his detriment two years ago in Sardinia when Dani Sordo had not offered him his victory while our representative was still in contention for the title against Seb Ogier. There is therefore no reason for today to change…
SS14: The fastest, Tanak is not ready to settle for 2nd place, Neuville does not want to hear about deposit
The retirement of Elfyn Evans, betrayed by his turbo on the section leading to the first special, made the position of Hyundai management even more delicate. With Pierre-Louis Loubet now fourth more than two minutes away, Julien Moncet should calm down his drivers and beg them to gently secure the first hat-trick in Hyundai’s history. The problem is that no decision has been made yet. The positions were not fixed between the two leaders and neither was it guaranteed to Ott Tanak that Thierry would offer him first place and the seven additional points that go with it. As a result, the two men continue to attack at the risk of going out or breaking their mechanics, thus jeopardizing the interests of their team. Because Thierry and Ott are leaders who want to win and fight above all for themselves.
In this special, Ott won the scratch and took back 2.9 from Thierry Neuville. The third points to 17 seconds. This means that the two men continue to give everything.
“No one spoke to me this morning,” said the Estonian. “So I know what I have left to do. I’m giving it my all, I’m pushing, but I’m afraid it won’t be enough.”
For his part, Thierry Neuville turns a deaf ear and does not want to hear about instructions. No question for the Belgian to offer his first success of the year to his teammate better placed than him in the championship: “I managed my lead and ensured a fantastic hat-trick for the team. A rally is played out on the stages…”
We are curious to see how Julien Moncet, the team’s sporting director, will manage this tense situation between his two leaders.