Tarquini backs rally ace Neuville for WTCR success
Gabriele Tarquini believes his Hyundai-powered colleague Thierry Neuville could hold his own in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO.
Tarquini’s comments came after he was called on to guide Neuville, the FIA World Rally Championship title contender, through his ADAC TCR Germany debut at the Nürburgring during the summer.
Neuville, who was driving a Hyundai i30 N TCR – identical in specification to the one Tarquini races in WTCR / OSCARO – won his first race and also impressed in the wet-weather second race at the former German Grand Prix venue.
“I was not expecting this performance,” said Tarquini, part of the BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse line-up in WTCR / OSCARO. “I told him in the best possible way he can be on the podium and he should be very happy with that. On Friday he was unhappy with his performance but it was wet and the braking was difficult. But on Saturday it was completely dry even though it was very cold. He put new tyres on in qualifying and on the second attempt he was on pole position. But I told him racing is another step because you never fight with other cars.
“I could suggest the lines and give him some advice but speaking is one thing, doing is another. But he don’t make any mistake. His start was fantastic, he managed the tyres in a proper way and managed the safety car [restart]. It was an unbelievable job but I was really, really surprised to be honest [because of his experience].”
Asked how Neuville would perform if he ever got to race in WTCR / OSCARO, Tarquini said: “In a normal track, like Hungaroring or Ningbo, he can be in the middle without any problem. He can surprise me and also win. His way of driving was close to my way, the braking point, the braking pressure, the come back on the throttle, he never did any mistake. He controlled all the race and was also incredible in the second race when there was big rain.”
Tarquini is back on WTCR / OSCARO duty at WTCR JVCKENWOOD Race of Japan in Suzuka from 25-27 October. Neuville, meanwhile, is in the fight for the World Rally Championship in Great Britain this weekend.
Photo: Hyundai Motorsport