Thierry Neuville secures Monte Carlo Rally victory

Thierry Neuville secures Monte Carlo Rally victory

Thierry Neuville delivered an impressive performance after dominating over half of the 17 Monte Carlo Rally stages, securing victory in the first round of the World Rally Championship.

After a thrilling head-to-head battle, Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville emerged victorious against Monte Carlo Rally champion Sebastien Ogier to kick off the 2024 World Rally Championship in grand fashion.

The Hyundai driver won nine out of the seventeen asphalt stages in a generally dry Monte Carlo Rally to secure his second victory at the famed event, edging nine-time winner Ogier by a margin of 16.1 seconds.

Neuville launched an assault on Saturday after brushing off early engine problems, overcoming Ogier and his GR Yaris teammate Elfyn Evans to take the lead with a razor-thin 3.3-second margin. His lead over the nine-time Rallye Monte-Carlo winner was solidified on Sunday with a clean sweep of the quickest times in the final leg.

Evans finished in third place but managed to score 21 points as he was the second quickest on Sunday’s stages and the fourth fastest on the powerstage.

Ott Tänak came in an unlikely fourth after his rally was impaired by sliding wide on an icy patch and nose-diving into a bank on Friday. He thereafter complained incessantly about his i20 N Rally1’s engine overrunning under deceleration, which seemed to throw off his pace.

M-Sport Ford’s impressive rookie driver line-up of Fourmaux and Munster ran fifth and sixth respectively until Saturday afternoon, when Munster—who had already lost time due to an incident on the stage three ice—found himself stranded in the stage 12 barriers.

Fourmaux executed a meticulous strategy to finish in fifth place on Sunday. However, an event as unpredictable as the Monte was always going to prove difficult for team-mate Grégoire Munster given his lack of Rally1 experience.

Munster finished at the bottom of the order after crashing on Saturday as his Ford Puma’s sump guard came to rest on the edge of the road, leaving him beached after he understeered wide on a patch of gravel and struck a fence.

Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen had a difficult time getting settled into his i20 N during his Rally1 debut. The reigning WRC2 champion finished sixth overall (+5m34.6s) after surviving a crazy encounter on stage nine.

Toyota’s Katsuta came in seventh place (+8m28.5s) after producing flashes of performance on Saturday, overcoming a five-minute deficit after getting beached in the same ditch as Tanak and Munster during stage three.

Katsuta did nothing more than keep his car running into the powerstage where he really revved things up finishing third fastest to earn three bonus points, on top of the two he had already earned for finishing sixth in the Sunday classification.

The peculiarity of the new points system saw Takamoto Katsuta finish behind Mikkelsen, yet nevertheless manage to outscore him by three points.

Following an incredible fight for the WRC2 win, Yohan Rossel grabbed the victory in a thrilling final stage despite not having led every stage of the rally until the very end.

Rossel was the pre-event favorite considering that he had triumphed in the Monte Carlo WRC2 last year. However, Pepe López and Rossel’s Citroën teammate Nikolay Gryazin, fought it out for the top spot for the better part of the rally, switching the lead every few stages from Friday to Sunday.

However, Rossel’s massive assault on Sunday morning overcame both of them; Rossel’s final 4.9 seconds on López on the Col de Turini won the race after trailing his rivals for the preceding 16 stages.

Gryazin finished on the podium 15.4 seconds behind the lead as the leading trio was so dominant that they won every single WRC2 stage amongst them.

Nicolas Ciamin finished in fourth place with his Hyundai i20 N Rally2 ahead of Stéphane Lefebvre, driving the leading Toyota GR Yaris Rally2.

Leave a Reply