- Nasser Al-Attiyah and Giovanni Bernacchini claimed a points finish in their first rally in nearly two months
- Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul finished 13th after an incident
- Al-Attityah and Neuville have high hopes ahead of Rally GB
Nasser Al-Attiyah and Giovanni Bernacchini (Qatar World Rally Team) celebrated their return to the WRC at Rallye Deutschland by picking up points with an eighth-place finish, thanks to a disciplined and consistent performance. After going off while battling for third place, Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul (Citroën Junior World Rally Team) ended up finishing in 13th position overall.
Taking part in his first event since the Acropolis Rally at the end of June, Nasser Al-Attiyah made a tentative start to the ninth round of the World Championship. From stages held on roads through the Mosel vineyards to the treacherous test on the winding roads of the Baumholder military base, the Qatari constantly had to keep out of trouble in order not to blow his chances of accumulating experience on tarmac.
“It’s almost like the start of a new season for me. Driving a WRC on tarmac is totally different to driving one on gravel. You brake later, the downforce is much greater… For someone like me, who has only raced once here in Germany, it’s a real challenge,” explained Nasser. “I know my times aren’t very good, but I’m not bothered about that. If I had made a mistake, I would have learned nothing from this weekend and I’d have to start all over again next time…”
Twelfth at the end of day one, the Qatar World Rally Team driver moved up to eighth overall on Saturday: “Many drivers went off on the military base stage. There were certainly lots of tricky sections, but I concentrated even harder to try and stay out of trouble.”
Nasser held on to his position right to the finish, picking up points towards the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championships: “There is no such thing as an easy rally, but this one was particularly difficult because of the constantly changing weather conditions. It has been an excellent weekend for the team, as Seb picked up yet another win. As far as we’re concerned, I think we did a good job. I am certain that it will be even better in Great Britain.”
Although he didn’t finish the rally in a points-scoring position, Thierry Neuville could take some satisfaction from having been in contention for a place on the podium. Fourth at the end of day one, the Citroën Junior Team was battling with Dani Sordo and Jari-Matti Latvala when he went off on the infamous Arena Panzerplatte stage: “The car was lifted off the ground by a jump on a corner that I had marked as ‘flat out’ in the notes. I couldn’t carry straight on into the field opposite because there were spectators. The radiator was damaged and we had to retire from the stage.”
As his No.8 DS3 WRC hadn’t suffered any major damage, Thierry was able to rejoin the rally on Sunday but also had to take a 20-minute time penalty. Day three provided him with the opportunity to add to his experience in damp conditions: “This could be useful for the Rallye de France. I am pleased to have been able to match the pace of the top drivers, but I’m also disappointed not to have seen the job through. I would really like to thank the entire team, including my gravel crews and my supporters. It was almost the perfect weekend and I’ll come back stronger nexttime.”