Thu 26 Jan 2023

Neuville left frustrated by Monte-Carlo struggles

Hyundai star Thierry Neuville has revealed he felt ‘powerless’ at certain points during last week’s Rallye Monte-Carlo.

The Belgian driver finished third overall at the season opener, filling the final podium spot behind Toyota Gazoo Racing rivals Sébastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanperä.

Despite admitting he “could do no more” on several of the French Alps speed tests, Neuville only managed to post two benchmark times. That translated into several stage-end frustrations, with his i20 N team-mates Dani Sordo and Esapekka Lappi - who finished seventh and eighth overall - both harbouring similar feelings.

“Generally, I think we must be satisfied with the end result, just because we have seen very early in the rally that it seems like we couldn’t really follow the pace of the other guys,” said Neuville. “And despite trying, we were never really able to set any good times. Just always a couple of seconds behind, constantly losing time."

On what was one of the driest Rallye Monte-Carlos seen in recent times, Neuville attributed part of his struggles to heavy tyre wear.

“We had so much tyre wear compared to the others all weekend and we are missing speed,” he explained. “Even if we are taking risks at some points, we can't match the others.

“As a team together, we probably didn’t expect the conditions [to be] so dry and we prepared more for [a normal] Monte-Carlo, where you go for softer settings. At the end it didn’t work out. I felt a bit powerless sometimes."

Looking ahead, Neuville and his team will focus on preparing for the next round in Sweden, where road position is expected to be crucial. With Ogier not contesting the Umeå-based fixture, he will start second on the road behind Rovanperä.

"I don’t know what we are going to see in Sweden. I mean, our clear target is to be on the pace, and if possible, have a small advantage - that would be nice.

“As Kalle has mentioned as well, road position is going to be important so hopefully we have some good conditions, equal conditions, that would be more fun.”

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