Thierry Neuville has been disqualified from Safari Rally Kenya on Sunday evening after event stewards found the Belgian to have conducted illegal recce activities during the rally.
The Hyundai Motorsport driver finished eighth overall at the FIA World Rally Championship’s seventh round but was disqualified by event stewards following a hearing at the rally base in Naivasha.
The stewards summarised the finding of the report received from the clerk of course that was initiated independently by the Safari Rally organisers. It indicated instances where an unauthorised person was seen, after reconnaissance, to be driving on routes that would be used as special stages over the course of the rally.
The person was on private property without authorisation and was stopped by Officials in two locations on two different days. The evidence presented to the stewards indicated links of this person to Neuville.
When asked, Neuville promptly admitted to the stewards that he was aware of the identified person and that he had requested this person’s support in identifying specific concerns (areas where rocks had moved) in some special stages.
Article 35.4.2 of the 2023 FIA WRC Sporting Regulations, states that: “After the publication of the Supplementary Regulations, only with the express authorisation of the Clerk of the Course and the FIA Rally Department may any person connected with an entered crew travel on or over the route of a special stage of the rally (except on foot). This rule shall apply until that special stage is terminated, open for public traffic and will no longer be used within the rally.”
The full report is available as “Stewards Decision 10” on the Official Notice Board of the Safari Rally Kenya event website.
In another late Sunday evening stewards decision Oliver Solberg and co-driver Elliott Edmondson were penalised two minutes for using one tyre more than their allotted number of 26. The two minute penalty had no impact on the pairing’s overall standing with Martin Prokop still nearly nine minutes in arrears. The disqualification of Neuville moved Solberg into ninth overall. – www.fia.com