Hyundai feared Neuville had broken leg in vicious crash
Hyundai initially feared that WRC points leader Thierry Neuville might have broken his leg in a high speed Rally Chile crash.
The Belgian's i20 Coupe WRC went off the road halfway through the Maria Las Cruces stage on Saturday morning, rolling six times. Despite initial concerns about his leg, Hyundai has confirmed Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul were uninjured.
Both emerged from the car unaided, but team principal Andrea Adamo confirmed to Motorsport.com that they called for aerial medical support immediately.
“You cannot be too careful for this situation,” said Adamo. “The [medical] checks can never be fast enough. There can be some internal damage, until we check we don’t know and I have some bad experience from [touring car star Gabriele] Tarquini, who dropped into a coma after [the severity of an] accident [was] totally underestimated. But everything is fine for Thierry and Nicolas.”
Neuville was helicoptered to hospital in Concepcion where medics cleared him of any fractures or injuries.
“It was nearly the fastest note I have,” said Neuville of where he crashed. “I don’t know exactly what happened, but [the car] turned maybe a little bit more than expected. The impacts were quite hard and there were quite a few of them… I have had other crashes which felt strong as well, maybe [this was the biggest]. It was a big one.
“In the recce, I was a little bit optimistic with my notes. We went through a slight right [and] flat over [the] crest. I went a little bit wide, hit the edge and immediately we rolled the car. I felt immediately we are going to hit the rear in the wall, but it was quite a deep ditch – you only have a few chances to get away with this.”
Asked about his injury, he replied: “Immediately I felt some pain in my left leg and saw some blood. I ask straight away [to the team] for an ambulance to check. The hospital did a good job and it’s just a few stitches. I’ll be back for Portugal. I’m already testing already next week.”
Ahead of the Concepcion-based event, Neuville held a 10-point lead over Sebastien Ogier and was 28 ahead of current rally leader Ott Tanak.
Despite the crash, Neuville remained upbeat about his title hopes.
“The situation is definitely not the one we wanted,” he said. “But we can look forward to the upcoming events. If we won’t be first in the championship, it gives us a better road position and more chances on a good result and the chance to fight back. The gap won’t be that big between me, Ogier and Tanak [after Chile].”
Chile WRC: Tanak in command after Neuville rolls out
Chile WRC: Tanak leads Ogier, Latvala forced to retire