Fuel pressure problem not tactics to blame for Rally Sweden delay

The Hyundai driver was four minutes late to the start of stage six after struggling to fire up his i20 N, incurring a 40-second penalty.

It resulted in the Belgian dropping behind Toyota’s Elfyn Evans on the road order, effectively making the latter face the worst of the conditions on the snow covered roads.

Evans initially suspected foul play at the end of stage stating, “I guess the spirit of competition has gone out of the window. Let’s wait to cast judgement on that before we say something we regret.”

Evans lost time to Neuville across the following three stages and ultimately ended the day in fifth overall, 1m50.0s behind leader Hyundai’s Esapekka Lappi, having held third spot before the start of stage six.

Speaking to media, Neuville confirmed that he was suffering from a genuine fuel pressure issue and refuted suggestions of deploying a strategic move.

Thierry Neuville, Hyundai World Rally Team

Thierry Neuville, Hyundai World Rally Team

Photo by: Vincent Thuillier / Hyundai Motorsport

“There was a problem and there still is a problem to be honest,” said Neuville.

“I think Elfyn was standing next to us when the car didn’t fire up and after some communication with the team we got it working.

«We are doing the whole loop like this but before stage six on the way to the start of the stage it wasn’t running properly. We tried the procedure and we couldn’t get it to work and it fired up four minutes late I think.

“The problem is related to the fuel pressure. We were forcing the fuel pump manually and it didn’t work before stage six and there was nothing I could do.

“To calm everybody down, if I wanted to do strategy I had 53 minutes before the stage so I could have stopped anywhere and work on the car and not just before the Time Control. It would have been a bad call to do it before the time control.”

When asked about Neuville’s problem before stage six at the end of the day Evans, added: “I’m not sure what’s been going on, but if that was intentional then they need a new strategist I think.”

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