WRC: Thierry Neuville demoted to Hyundai's second team for Rally GB
Thierry Neuville was demoted to Hyundai Motorsport’s second team for next month’s Wales Rally GB, the last round of World Rally Championship. The Belgian has been dropped to the second squad and will line up alongside Kevin Abbring at the rally scheduled for 12-15 November. His place will be taken by Hayden Paddon, who will partner Dani Sordo.
Reason for such a decision is Neuville’s dissapointing form in 2015 season so far. He is fifth in the championship with two podiums from 11 rounds. Although fifth place sounds good, because only three Volkswagen drivers and Citroen’s Mads Ostberg are in front of him, the management of Korean squad wasn’t satisfied, especially team manager Alain Penasse. Hyundai officially declared that the decision was taken to help Neuville rebuild his confidence for 2016 away from the pressure of fighting for second in the manufacturers’ championship. The team is currently a point adrift of Citroën.
“This decision has been reached following a productive meeting with the team in which we both discussed openly our thoughts ahead of the final rounds of the season and planning for 2016. This will be important as I strive to regain my confidence ahead of 2016. Next year will be an important season for all of us so this approach will allow me to get my pace back and enter the winter period in the perfect mindset,” explained Neuville.
“Picking up as many points as we can in these events is vital and the drivers’ form is key to unlocking our full potential. Talking to Thierry, we felt that we needed to find a way for him to regain his confidence and we think removing championship pressure from him will help him get back on track ahead of our 2016 campaign. Everyone in the team is 100 per cent behind Thierry and we feel this is the right decision to take for Wales Rally GB. We have made a similar driver switch in the past to good effect and we hope this will again be beneficial not only to the team, but to Thierry as well,” Alain Penasse said.
Photo: Hyundai Motorsport, Michelin