Hyundai: "Not impossible" for Neuville to win in Croatia

Thierry Neuville snatching a win on the final day of the Croatia Rally is far from impossible, according to his Hyundai boss.

Four stages totalling 50 competitive miles remain tomorrow and Andrea Adamo believes Neuville can still take maximum points.

An incorrect tyre choice for this morning’s opening loop cost the Belgian the lead of the Tarmac event. He went for two hard and three soft shoes, while Sebastien Ogier chose five hard compound Pirelli tyres.

As a direct result, Neuville dropped from first place to third on Saturday’s morning loop. On the second pass this afternoon, he produced a strong recovery drive to trim Ogier’s lead from 19.6 seconds to 10.4 seconds.

His cause was helped when Toyota driver Ogier picked up a slow front-right puncture on stage 13 – the 12.7-mile run from ‘Mali Lipovec to Grdanjci’.

Asked if Neuville could turn things around on Sunday, Adamo said: “For sure, he has a chance but the stages tomorrow will be even more different from the ones that we have seen in the past two days.

“I think that it will be entertainment – if that is the proper word in English – for you, but if we want to be realistic nothing is decided.

“The difference between them [Ogier, Elfyn Evans and Neuville] is so close it’s difficult to catch up [the time] without external factors [like punctures].

“It’s not impossible – but it will be really tough and a case of managing a high level of pressure and tension during tomorrow.”

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Adamo confirmed he would not be initiating team orders as part of his planning for Sunday, insisting every point would prove crucial in the manufacturers’ title race just three rounds into the 2021 season.

“It is too early to play games,” he said. “I think in this case, with ten seconds, you cannot tell them [Thierry and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe] to back out.

“This title race will be a two-horse battle and you cannot afford to let some points slip through without fighting until the last moment because if you sum up first and second, and third and fourth points, the gap is a lot.

“I think we have to try because I do not want to complain later on in the season about some missed points here and there. Of course, if you put pressure on the one in front it is nice,” he added.

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