HYUNDAI driver Thierry Neuville, aboard a Hyundai i20, took advantage of withdrawals by defending world champion Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matta Latvala to win his and the car manufacturer’s maiden title in the recent Rally Germany.
Neuville finished 40 seconds ahead of teammate Dani Sordo to claim the first 1-2 victory for Hyundai in World Rally Championship (WRC).
Andreas Mikkelsen came in third to save some face for Volkswagen after Ogier’s and Latvala’s crashes.
Ogier’s involvement in the ninth leg of the WRC came to a premature end when his Volkswagen Polo smashed into a roadside barrier on Stage 8, which in turn was canceled for safety reasons. Overnight leader Latvala went off the road in a vineyard section about 14 kilometers after the start of the opening 18.03-kilometer Dhrontal stage.
Latvala’s retirement left Kris Meeke with an 8.4-second lead over Neuville but Meeke then crashed into a wall early in the following Grafschaft stage, ripping the rear left wheel off his Citroen DS3.
The drama handed Neuville an unassailable lead over Sordo and continued to hand the Hyundai team a maiden WRC victory and a 1-2 finish. Neuville’s win was only the second by a Belgian on the World Rally circuit following Francois Duval’s success in Australia in 2005.