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Thierry Neuville slow from the starting blocks in Rally of Monte Carlo

© EPA-EFE

The Monte Carlo Rally, the opening round of the World Rally Championship, is a soft spot for Thierry Neuville for the time being. The East Cantonner turned out to be the fastest of the three Hyundai drivers, but he had to give in to leader Sébastien Ogier (Toyota) for just under half a minute after two chrono rides. In the standings, Neuville is in a disappointing sixth place.

Gert Vermersch

“I have absolutely no confidence in the car,” said Neuville at the end of the first day of Monte Carlo. “In the first test I was never really able to attack, because the overheated brakes and tires quickly started to bother me. The latter was a bit to be expected. In order not to use too much of our limited stock of soft tires, we made a compromise in the tire choice. But the second test didn’t go much better: on the bumpy roads it wasn’t possible to force anything either.”

The first reactions of the WRC tenors about the new hybrid cars could not immediately be described as enthusiastic. Kalle Rovanperä, the young Finn of Toyota, perhaps gave the best description. “Where does the hybrid system help me? No idea really. All I’m thinking about is driving as fast as possible.”

On Friday, six chrono stages will be completed, good for 97 kilometers against the clock.

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