Thierry Neuville’s dreams of victory at Safari Rally Kenya collapsed in Sunday morning’s opening Loldia speed test.
The Belgian started the 11.33km stage with a lead of almost a minute in his Hyundai i20 over Takamoto Katsuta, but the longtime leader’s hopes were shattered along with his car’s rear right suspension after he hit a rock midway through the test.
Neuville and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe limped to the finish almost 45sec slower than the Japanese driver and although their lead remained intact, the damage was too great to continue and Neuville’s African adventure was over.
Confirming it is game over for the Belgian, Hyundai tweeted: “Thierry Neuville & Martijn Wydaeghe [are] forced to retire from the lead at Safari Rally Kenya after SS14 with a broken rear-right damper. The team will recover the car and bring it back to service.”
#WRC ?? @thierryneuville & @MWydaeghe forced to retire from the lead at @wrcsafarirally after SS14 with a broken rear-right damper. The team will recover the car and bring it back to service. #HMSGOfficial #SafariRallyKenya
— hmsgofficial (@HMSGOfficial) June 27, 2021
Neuville’s retirement means Kenya’s Onkar Rai moves to seventh.