Thierry Neuville was sure Evans had beaten him

Neuville was sure Evans had beaten him
By AutoSport

01/05/2017 at 13:19Updated 01/05/2017 at 15:39

Rally Argentina winner Thierry Neuville was convinced Elfyn Evans had beaten him until the final moments of last weekend's World Rally Championship round.

Hyundai driver Neuville had fought back from being just over a minute behind Evans's initially-dominant DMACK Ford to go onto the final stage of the rally just 0.6 seconds adrift.

Though momentum had been with Neuville through the second half of the event, Evans put in an opening split 3.1s faster than his rival on the decider, leaving Neuville convinced he had lost only for Evans to then run wide and clip a bridge.

"When I saw that time from him I thought: 'It's gone, if he doesn't make any mistakes then our time won't be fast enough,'" said Neuville.

"But he made a mistake and at the next split he was 1.3s down on us. Then I knew it would be difficult for him. To be there watching it at the end of the stage was amazing. It was such an intense weekend."

Both drivers fought through a variety of problems, with a damper issue holding Neuville back at first, and Evans's scares including two punctures, the loss of his Fiesta's diffuser, brake worries and damper trouble of his own.

Neuville, whose final winning margin was just 0.7s, said he took great pride from his performance.

"I am really proud of the way we did that," he said. "To catch back the time to Elfyn was amazing. It was incredible at the finish."

Neuville's second consecutive win moves him into third place in the championship, 18 points behind series leader Sebastien Ogier.

"That result is definitely good for the championship," Neuville said.

"To take maximum points and maximum powerstage points was really important for us here."

Despite his tough start to the season - crashing out of the lead in Monte Carlo and Sweden - Neuville insisted he remained relaxed about his title bid.

"I was pretty calm to be honest," he said. "Since the beginning of the year I felt really confident about the car.

"So far I have made a few mistakes, but I have the feeling that I feel safe and I know exactly how to manage my rally when I'm pushing too much or when I'm not pushing enough."

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