Wednesday | 22 Jan 2014

Monte Carlo new driver report: Part one

Seven top-flight drivers made their first appearances in new machinery on Rallye Monte-Carlo. Some fared better than others. Here is’s view on their performances:

Thierry Neuville

Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20 WRC)
A lot was expected of the man that shone in last year’s WRC and bagged second place in the series standings. But his rally only lasted seven kilometres after he crashed into a telegraph pole. It was a disappointing performance from the Belgian and denied Hyundai the opportunity to put some competitive miles on its brand-new car.

Mikko Hirvonen

Mikko Hirvonen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)
This will go down as a rally that the Finn will want to forget. He was never really at the races as he struggled to find the confidence that would enable him to push in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC. He eventually passed his less experienced team-mate 13 stages into the rally, but his rally came to an end on the final stage after his Ford Fiesta RS WRC broke down with a suspected broken alternator. That sealed a disappointing weekend.

Kris Meeke

Kris Meeke (Citroen DS3 WRC)
A very measured drive from the Briton as he proudly secured a podium finish on his debut event as a fully-fledged Citroen driver. Meeke was inside the top-three on all but one of the stages and that was all the more remarkable given he had never driven on Michelin’s winter tyre before the rally started. A great start to 2014.

Robert Kubica

Robert Kubica (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)
The Pole admitted that he set himself a personal target of setting one fastest stage time during the course of the season. Amazingly, he set two on the opening brace of stages. Okay, he exited the rally on the second day when he crashed but he’d already impressed a lot of people by then. He’ll learn from his mistake and has already been tipped to be challenging for asphalt rally wins later this season.