Neuville outstrips Junior field and claims first Championship points
Belgian youngster Thierry Neuville and his French co-driver Nicolas Klinger dominated the J-WRC field in their CitroŽn C2 S1600 this weekend at Rally Bulgaria, the third round of the 2010 FIA Junior World Rally Championship. Neuville finished 52.5 seconds ahead of his nearest rival, having only driven his C2 on tarmac for the first time during the eventís Shakedown.

The pressure was on Neuville this weekend because he started Rally Bulgaria without any J-WRC points. Both Turkey and Portugal ended in retirement whilst the youngster was challenging for the lead. Bulgaria, however, offered the 2009 CitroŽn Racing Trophy Benelux winner a virtually untroubled drive with only minor brake problems on SS2 and some difficulties with pace notes on SS11. His confident win this weekend earned him 25 J-WRC points, putting him sixth in the Junior standings Ė 21 points off the Championship lead. Kevin Abbring (NLD, Renault Clio) left Bulgaria the sole J-WRC championship leader, picking up six points for seventh place after a podium finish was thwarted by an alternator failure on the last stage of Day Two which saw the Dutchman lose ten minutes.

A clear second place got another CitroŽn driver Hans Weijs Junior (NLD) off the mark in the 2010 J-WRC standings. Brake problems, which had forced his retirement in Portugal, further plagued Weijs on Day One in Bulgaria. However, he finished the opening four stages in a strong third place. The young Dutchman remarkably drove SS5 without any pace notes because his co-driver, Bjorn Degandt, was unwell and lost his voice. The C2ís alternator then broke on SS9, but luckily Weijs was able to change it before SS10. Despite this, he won two stages (SS8 and SS10) and climbed to second. He then suffered pace note problems on SS11, like Neuville, before picking up a small problem with his suspension on SS12. Yet he fixed this too at service and drove home to claim his first 18 J-WRC points of 2010.

The final place on the podium was scooped by the Clio of Bulgarian driver Todor Slavov who finished over six minutes behind Neuville on his home event. A disappointing opening two days left Slavov in sixth place after tackling the familiar stages of Rally Bulgaria. He did however fight back strongly to pass Alessandro Broccoli (ITA, Renault Clio) and Karl Kruuda (EST, Suzuki Swift) by the end of the rally, clocking a stage win en route (SS11) Ė and benefitted from the misfortunes of Abbring, Yeray Lemes (ESP, Renault Clio) and Matthieu Arzeno (FRA, CitroŽn C2) . The young Frenchman Arzeno impressed by scoring two J-WRC stage wins in only his second ever WRC event..

1st Ė Thierry Neuville (BLG): ďIím so happy! It was a really good weekend for us. On Day Two we pushed a lot on the first stage to put pressure on the other drivers. We have to look forward to Germany Ė to get the same result would be very good.Ē

2nd Ė Hans Weijs Junior (NLD) : ďItís good to come second, a good result for the Championship. We had a lot of problems so Iím happy with second. Iím looking forward to Germany, because it will be a strong rally for us. Now I just want Holland to win the World Cup tonight Ė but itís like rallying, itíll be decided at the last minute!Ē

3rd Ė Todor Slavov (BGR): ďThis was a great result for us. It was difficult to beat the others, they are very fast, but third is ok and especially on my home rally which I love!Ē

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