Thierry Neuville took victory in the Central European Rally on Sunday, the penultimate event of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship finishing 57.6s ahead of 2023 champion Kalle Rovanpera.
Speaking following the rally, the Belgian said:
“I am really happy; it was a relief to make it to the finish! It was a very challenging, tough weekend out there. Overall, we have done a very good job; we had good consistency and speed, which really paid off, and I was able to start enjoying the rally more towards the end – especially when the grip conditions got a bit more stable. Thank you to everyone – it was a real team effort this weekend, and we did it. We have been pushing hard since Sardinia for another win, and it didn’t happen despite many podiums. To win here in front of lots of Belgian fans and family is obviously great – a lot of joy in this moment. We can be proud of what we achieved and now we look forward to the last event of the year and focus on another victory.”
Teemu Suninen finished the event in sixth place just over three minutes behind Neuville.
Speaking following the event he said:
Generally the rally was good. I haven’t done one like this for two years, so I was thrown in the deep end! Every loop was different in terms of weather and conditions, so there was a lot of learning. I had good pace in places – like going second fastest on SS11 – but my experience wasn’t enough to adapt to the conditions of the car from the very first kilometre. I’d like to say a big thanks to the team, it was a great season. It was nice to jump in the car mid-season and take on this challenge; I think this is a good position to continue building on from here. I’m satisfied with the job I’ve done, I was pretty much where I expected to be on paper at what is the hardest rally for me on the calendar.”
Hyundai have now cemented their position in second in the championship behind Toyota.
Speaking following the action, Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul said:
“This is a great feeling. Firstly, congratulations to Kalle Rovanperä on securing his second FIA World Rally Championship drivers’ title today. It has been an impressive season from him and Toyota Gazoo Racing; they are clearly the benchmark and one that serves as inspiration for what we want to do. As for us, this was a very good rally. It was a new event, and everyone put a lot of effort into the preparation. So many people from our factory have joined us for our home rally this weekend, as well as our colleagues from Hyundai Motor Europe, Hyundai Motor Deutschland, and Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Czech. It was fantastic to have them here and to share this moment with them; it is a moment that can build the winning culture we need for what is to come next. For now, congratulations to Thierry and Martijn on their win. They made no mistakes in a very challenging weekend. Teemu was able to accumulate more experience in very different conditions, and it was a good opportunity for us to see his progression as we determine our next steps.
The 2023 FIA World Rally Championship will conclude with the 13th round of the season, Rally Japan, on November 16-19.