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World Rally Championship

Thierry/Martijn master Monte-Carlo

Belgians make perfect start to 2024 season


Belgians make perfect start to 2024 season

Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe have taken an exceptional victory at Rallye Monte-Carlo, the first round of the 2024 FIA World Rally Championship.

The Belgian Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team crew made the perfect start to their season after a thrilling battle for victory across 17 demanding stages. Across four days of intense competition, with twists and turns that mirrored the mountainous roads of the rally, Neuville/Wydaeghe demonstrated impressive form and emphatically set out their intensions for the year ahead.

Sunday closed an epic edition of Rallye Monte-Carlo with three final stages: a third attempt of Friday’s La Bréole/Selonnet (SS15, 18.31km), followed by Digne-les-Bains/Chaudon-Norante (SS16, 19.01km) – last seen on the itinerary in 1989 – and the iconic La Bollène-Vésube/Col de Turini (SS17, 14.80km).

A final day flourish from the Belgians saw them claim a clean sweep of stage wins. By topping the classification on Saturday, Sunday and the Power Stage, the crew brought home the maximum points on offer from the event. Neuville’s win marks his second in Rallye Monte-Carlo and his 20th with Hyundai Motorsport.

Their team-mates Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja finished fourth overall in their first event back in Hyundai Motorsport colours. Early engine issues hampered the crew’s overall result, however there were plentiful signs of things to come in Monte-Carlo. As well as a joint stage win on Saturday, the Estonians claimed four additional points with fourth place in the Super Sunday leaderboard and one point for their Power Stage efforts.

Andreas Mikkelsen and Torstein Eriksen ended a weekend of steady progression with clean runs through the final three stages to confirm sixth place. The Norwegian crew was improving step-by-step throughout the weekend in their first outing in the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid, and now turn their focus to continuing their learning in their next event.

Neuville tops the drivers’ standings with a six-point advantage, while there is just one point separating the top two in the manufacturers’ fight heading into Sweden.

Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (#11 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)

  • Belgians secured nine stage wins in Rallye Monte-Carlo
  • Crew awarded maximum 30 points from the event

Neuville said: “I don’t have the words to be honest. It was just so great this weekend, I felt so comfortable in the car. The team has done an amazing job and I think the whole package was working very well. It was the first time that we had the team in place like this, and I think this has been a good sign for the future. There’s always some work left so we need to continue working hard, but I’m very happy to win this rally. We were the boss this weekend. The car was amazing so I’d like to say a big thank you to the team.”

Crew Notes: Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (#8 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)

  • Estonians finish fourth overall and in Super Sunday classification
  • Two top-three stage times on final day demonstrate crew is on the pace

Tänak said: “We need to take fourth but obviously it was not an easy event. We had a lot to learn and discover about the Hyundai i20 N Rally 1 Hybrid. It hasn’t been the most consistent event but we got through the weekend, and let’s see what we can do next. We’re looking forward to Sweden and another adventure. It is coming round very quickly so we are hoping that after some pre-event testing we will be even more ready than we were this weekend.”

Crew Notes: Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (#9 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)

  • Sixth place finish after an important learning event for Norwegian crew
  • Mikkelsen/Torstein will return to tarmac for Croatia Rally in April

Mikkelsen said: “We have enjoyed this weekend. Yesterday we made a good improvement in our speed but we were cautious today because we were in the middle of no man’s land. We tried to give it a push on the Power Stage and we were only 0.3 seconds off the pace per kilometre, so we are getting closer and closer. These cars are awesome. To use the maximum potential of them you really need to be used to how they drive and I am still learning how quick you can go, especially in medium-high speed places where I’m not using the downforce enough. I’m just missing that extra bit of knowledge but with some more seat time, we should be good to go.”

Hyundai Motorsport President and Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul said: “Winning in Monte-Carlo is on everyone’s bucket list when you work in motorsport. As a team, we are relieved – not only because we have won an iconic event, but also that this has been a remarkable and collected demonstration. We haven’t spoken about it too much, but the car has changed a lot since last year as we understood how to set it up and how to release its full potential across a weekend. This win is highly deserved, as is always the case, but when it happens like this it is really a great feeling.”

Rally Sweden will take place February 15-18.

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