Rallye Monte-Carlo – Day One Report

  • Hyundai Motorsport’s Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak are firmly in the fight for the podium after the opening stages of Rallye Monte-Carlo
  • The first round of the 2024 FIA World Rally Championship season began with two night-time stages, after which Neuville sits in second and Tänak in fourth
  • All three crews made it safely through the first runs of a tricky and unpredictable rally, which will continue with six stages on Friday.

Gap, France

January 26, 2024 – The 2024 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) is officially underway, with Hyundai Motorsport’s Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe in second place at the end of day one at Rallye Monte-Carlo.

The 2024 edition of WRC’s famous opening round has moved its base back to the town of Gap for the first time since 2021. As is tradition for Rallye Monte-Carlo, the event opened with two mountainous stages ran in complete darkness. With no snow or ice on the routes, and a long rally ahead, Hyundai Motorsport elected to run three softs and one super-soft on each car in a bid to save tyres for the coming days.

From their first competitive kilometres in the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid, Hyundai Motorsport returnees Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja were on impressive pace. Despite battling a small throttle issue, the Estonians were second fastest through SS1 Thoard/Saint-Geniez (21.01km) with their team-mates Neuville and Wydaeghe just behind them in third.

Fans lined the road of SS2 Bayons/Bréziers, the rally’s longest stage at 25.19km, to cheer the drivers as they wound their way up the mountain pass. Precision was key around the tight, undulating paths and tricky hairpins.

Unfortunately, all three Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team crews experienced problems on the unrelenting test. Neuville/Wydaeghe dropped seven seconds to the rally leader, however they gained a position due to the misfortune of their team-mates Tänak/Järveoja, who dropped out of the provisional podium places. The duo remain in touching distance of third, with the gap just over a second.

Andreas Mikkelsen and Torstein Eriksen also faced some technical gremlins on their first Rally1 outing, but safely competed their first day back in the top category of WRC. The Norwegians are aiming to gain with speed as they become more confident behind the wheel of the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid.

The next three days at Monte-Carlo are predicted feature conditions just as challenging, with tyres expected to play a key role across the 15 stages that remain.  

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

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

  • Second fastest for Estonians in first stage back with Hyundai Motorsport
  • #8 crew finish the first day just 1.2 seconds adrift of third place

Tänak said: “A few kilometres into the first stage, we started to have some strange things with the engine behaviour. Luckily, the end of the stage was quite fast so it didn’t disturb us too much. The second stage was much more twisty and changing conditions, so it was more of a struggle. We will try to fine-tune the set-up a bit but I don’t think we are too far away; the runs were ok and the car was well balanced. These night stages are always tricky, and when you have an issue as well you are fighting it, so it doesn’t really give you the feeling. Let’s see what happens tomorrow; when the car is working well, we will see where we are.”

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

  • Cautious and clean run through Thursday’s stages
  • Gaining speed and experience is the main goal in Monte-Carlo

Mikkelsen said: “It’s been a bit stressful on our two night stages, so getting through and getting the mileage under our belt was so important. This car is so different from what I’m used to so we had a safe and steady run through. When the feeling is there, we will gradually increase throughout the weekend. The car was starting to drive more to my liking after a few changes before the second stage, so let’s see what small alterations we can do tomorrow. The stages will be very different from what we experienced today, so we won’t be making big changes. I’m looking forward to tomorrow; when you’ve done some stages, had a good night sleep, and then get back at it you’re on a much better level.”

Hyundai Motorsport President and Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul said: “It is good to be back rallying again in the 2024 season, especially with a group of people that has been built over the winter – a mix of old and new faces, we were all looking forward to seeing the efforts of that in action. Today has been a nice introduction to the weekend, with great stages, great fans and great scenery. We had a small driveability issue, which can have a big impact in the night stages, which are tricky anyway. It’s something that is easily addressed and we will resolve overnight. As far as our competitiveness, we are in the mix; it’s going to be a long rally, so let’s see what tomorrow brings.”

Friday at a glance

  • Rallye Monte-Carlo’s first full day will see crews head to the east of Gap for six familiar stages, each run twice and split by mid-day service
  • The roads of St-Léger-les-Mélèzes/La Bâtie-Neuve (SS3/6, 16.68km), Champcella/Saint-Clément (SS4/7, 17.87km) and La Bréole/Selonnet (SS5/8, 18.31km) have featured at previous rallies based around the French town.

Classification after Day One

1E. EvansS. MartinToyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid26:12.9
2T. Neuville M. WydaegheHyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid+15.1
3S. OgierV. LandaisToyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid+21.6
4O. Tänak M. JärveojaHyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid+22.8
5A. FourmauxA. CoriaFord Puma Rally1 Hybrid+39.0
6T. KatsutaA. JohnstonToyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid+46.3
7G. MunsterL. LoukaFord Puma Rally1 Hybrid+1:06.0
8A. Mikkelsen T. EriksenHyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid+1:08.8

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