BRENTWOOD, England - Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul put in a sensational performance behind the wheel of their Qatar World Rally Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC to secure second place at the 2013 Rally Italia Sardegna – theirs and the team’s best ever result in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).
The result marks Neuville’s third podium of the year – a combination of control and out-right pace clearly paying dividends for the young Belgian. Starting cautiously, the 25-year-old was in control from start to finish with his impressive speed indicating that the top-step of the podium will be well within reach as the series moves to his more favoured events in the latter half of the season.
Making an impact with an outstanding points-scoring finish on his world rally car debut, fellow Qatar World Rally Team driver Elfyn Evans claimed an impressive sixth place – one of the highest placed finishes for a driver on their WRC debut.
A difficult event for the young Welshman, this was also his first venture to the Italian event as well as his first outing with co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini. Yet ever rising to the challenge and learning with each new stage, Evans maintained his composure for a thoroughly deserved result.
Keeping his head where the more experienced faltered, the 24-year-old’s progress was clear to see. Gaining experience and upping his pace with each competitive kilometre, Evans put in a near faultless performance. Proving he can up the pace when necessary, he clinched his sixth place by just 0.9 seconds and has certainly proved his potential as a real star of the future.
Elsewhere in the one remaining Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team Fiesta RS WRC, Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson recovered some good points following a roll over on Friday. Despite losing the intercom and thus having no pacenotes for 90 per cent of SS10 (Terranova 1) followed by a slow puncture and spin on the following two stages (SS11 and SS12), the Scandinavians recovered an impressive six places to finish a points-scoring eighth overall.
Østberg’s result also saw M-Sport continue its record breaking streak of points finishes as a manufacturer entrant. Thanks to some exceptional, late-night work from the mechanics to ensure Østberg’s restart, M-Sport’s manufacturer teams have scored points on every single WRC event since the 2002 Rallye Monte Carlo – that’s 165 and counting.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson said: “What a fantastic result for both Thierry [Neuville] and Elfyn [Evans] – I think they’ve both proved a lot this weekend!
“Thierry’s second place shows just how confident he has become behind the wheel of the Fiesta [RS WRC] and I’m sure there’s more to come from him when we move into the second half of the season. He’s proven he has the consistency, and I think this weekend he took another step forward by proving that he also has the speed to challenge for the top positions. He thoroughly deserves to be third in the drivers’ championship.”