neuville service New Zealand 2012 Thierry Neuville in the Land of the Long Clouds © McKlein for Citroen Racing

Red Bull backed driver Thierry Neuville is currently making his debut on Rally New Zealand, the seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship. We caught up with Thierry at the end of day one to find out how he got on…

“I think two of the hardest things about Rally New Zealand so far have been pacenotes and the weather,” explained Thierry. “On the recce we write our pacenotes at 80km an hour but on the stage we are driving the roads at nearly 200km an hour so it’s very different at those kind of speeds.

“That’s definitely where we have found things most difficult. I’d like to go faster tomorrow but I don’t want to push too hard and go off the road,” added the 24-year-old.

“And the weather has been constantly changing since we got here. On the recce it was damp a lot and then today it has been cloudy one minute and sunny the next. It makes tyre choice really difficult as nobody knows what the conditions will be like from one stage to the next.”

'It’s like nothing I’ve ever driven on before: the roads really work with you on this rally'

Characterised by fast, flowing roads and stunning scenic views, New Zealand is a favourite among WRC drivers. Furthermore, the roads are smooth and cambered – all of which help encourage a driver to attack the stages.

“The roads are very unique in New Zealand,” explained Thierry. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever driven on before and the roads really work with you on this rally – you can use the camber of the road to pull you through the corner.


nullWhen we say Thierry Neuville's pace is electric, this is not what we had in mind © McKlein for Citroen Racing

“There are times when you can be a gear higher than you would be on the same sort of bend without the camber. It’s a pretty special feeling.”

And the unique character of the roads in the Land of the Long White Cloud must suit Thierry well: he’s lying sixth after the first full day of action.

“I think it’s been quite a good day,” said the Belgian. “Our rear tyres were really worn by the end of the morning loop which affected our confidence, but we managed to keep everything going.

“On the final stage of the day, we got caught behind another car and struggled to see properly with all the mud that was being thrown onto our windscreen. But that’s just rallying, and tomorrow we try to go a bit faster.”


nullThierry Neuville in action at his first Rally New Zealand © McKlein for Citroen Racing

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