Ypres - BFGoodrich Drivers Team - Finish
After figuring as high as fourth overall on the opening day of the 2009 Belgium Ypres Rally, local youngster Thierry Neuville was forced to retire shortly before the end of the first day at the Flanders-based event.
one stage remaining before Friday evening's overnight halt in Ypres, Neuville lost control of his Peugeot 207 S2000 which swiped a post on the infamous Hollebeke stage.
The resulting damage prevented the invited BFGoodrich Drivers Team representative from going any further, bringing a very promising performance to an end at this highly tricky asphalt rally.
"I am so sorry for everyone at Kronos Racing, BFGoodrich and all those whose votes put me in the Peugeot this weekend. I was caught out by a small jump which sent my car off line. There wasn't much I could do about it. It's such a shame," Neuville acknowledged.
Thanks to his speed and consistency up to that point, 21-year old Thierry Neuville had just moved into fourth place ahead of factory drivers Giandomenico Basso (Abarth) and Juho Hanninen (Skoda).
"We got off to a great start, and we were between fourth and seventh fastest on all the stages we completed," Neuville continued.
"We even succeeded in posting the fastest time on Thursday evening's shakedown, level with (Francois) Duval and (Freddy) Loix. I couldn't have wished for a better start."
"Thierry's retirement in no way calls his talent into question, nor the BFGoodrich Drivers Team operation which was once again a huge success with the local crowd," reported Jacques Morelli, the man in charge of BFGoodrich's IRC programme.
"Thierry had plenty of people supporting him and his BFGoodrich Peugeot this weekend," he pointed out. "He failed to make it to the finish, but that's rallying..."
The third port of call for the BFGoodrich Drivers Team programme this season will be the Czech Republic's Barum Rally Zlin (August 21-23) where the driver chosen by last year's jury – Pavel Valousek – finished fourth in 2008.