It is in the shoes of the title holder that Thierry neuville arrived this week in Catalonia, determined to do it again and win a second rally in 2021 after his home success on August 15 at Francorchamps.
It was also in Spain that the Belgian driver discovered the World Rally Championship behind the wheel of a Citroën C2 R2 Max in 2009, twelve years ago!
“I remember it very well, smiled Thierry Neuville at the microphone of Olivier Gaspard, RTBF’s special envoy in Catalonia. This rally was not at all planned in our program, and at the last minute, we were engaged here. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go to the end of the race, but I was in third place in two-wheel drive until then. I had a good race before I retired because of an alternator problem. Time flies very quickly, but I remember it like it was yesterday. My best memory here is obviously my victory two years ago. It’s a rally that I have always liked, where we have always been quite competitive. And then, it was a great challenge in recent years with a typical “dirt” day before two “asphalt” days. This is no longer the case this year, it was nice, but it was pointed out many times that it was better to start with the two “asphalt” days and end with the “dirt” day to determine the starting order. It would have been nicer and fairer. But we still managed to win two years ago by starting second on Friday, it’s a nice memory! “
“On asphalt, we are always one of the favorites, resumed TN. We know the roads fairly well, even if there is a new stage and ten kilometers in other stages that we don’t know either. Here I think it will be a tenth of a second fight! It will be difficult to make gaps, everyone knows this rally quite well. The roads are dry, clean, it’s the set-up, the confidence and a little risk-taking that will make the difference this weekend. Here, the notes are very important: we drive almost as on the track, using the entire road and optimizing everything. We hope to be among the fastest, we will know more from the shakedown Thursday morning. My Top 3? I put myself in 1, because I really want to win this rally. In 2, Elfyn Evans will go fast, and Ott Tanak in 3! We can give everything, we don’t have much to lose. When you don’t play any of the titles anymore, there is something at least, you have to be realistic. It’s a little more “sad” atmosphere, but we’ll try to compensate for that with a victory. “