Tuesday | 24 Jan 2017

Neuville's bitter-sweet Monte

Thierry Neuville says he has mixed feelings about his debut appearance in Hyundai's new i20 Coupe at Rallye Monte-Carlo last weekend.

Neuville and his co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul were the crew to beat for much of the rally until a wide moment on Saturday’s final stage left them with broken suspension and cost them a hard-fought 50-second lead.
Starting the final day in 15th position, and with little hope of improvement, Neuville won the rally-closing live TV Power Stage to salvage five drivers' points from the championship's opening round.

"Looking back at the event I have different feelings, I would say," Neuville told wrc.com.

"Of course, I'm very happy with the performance of me and Nicolas, and very happy with the performance of our car and the job of our team, I'm very thankful for that. But on the other hand, I'm disappointed because we were the clear leaders of the event and the strongest team before a very small mistake had huge consequences."

"Even Sébastien Ogier went off twice, but he had more luck than us. But that's part of the rally, to be honest. We have been lucky ourselves in the past. Just not this time when we really deserved it..."

With no hope of climbing back into the points positions after the time loss, Neuville focused all his efforts on the Power Stage finale.
"We wanted to push hard there. We had to put the disappointment of Saturday afternoon behind us, and look to return to form. We definitely did that. It’s a consolation for what we missed out on this weekend," he said.

As well as his haul of points, Neuville left Monte Carlo feeling optimistic about the potential of his new all-new car.

"I feel good about it, and if you look the pace then we have to feel positive. Okay, still there is work to do, and we have to improve if we are keep that strong performance on the other events, but I'm satisfied because I already feel very comfortable in the car - and that's the main thing."

And with a total of seven wins from the rally's 15 stages, Hyundai team principal Michel Nandan was also encouraged by the debut of the new car.

"We didn't really have any big problems, just a small issue with Dani's car, but nothing really dramatic, so on this side it's quite positive," he said.

"In general I have to say the 2017 car looks really not bad. Now let's see how it will be on the more difficult conditions. We will know more in Mexico I think. But to start like this is not bad, even if we have not taken a lot of points."


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