For Thierry Neuville, the 90th edition of the Monte Carlo Rally is becoming one long agony. On the penultimate day, his Hyundai’s suspension failed, dropping him to sixth in the standings.
“I’m afraid it’s over”, grumbled Thierry Neuville after the second test on Saturday. “Since the start of the rally, we’ve been dealing with sluggish handling and now I felt something break too.”
Moments later, Neuville discovered that it was the front right shock absorber that was causing them additional problems. Together with co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe, Neuville was able to carry out an emergency repair – external assistance is only allowed in this Monte Carlo at the end of the day – but two laps later the thing broke down again. This time the shock absorber even shot through the hood, but in a hail of sparks Neuville stumbled to the finish of the KP.
“For the last test, we were able to reassemble the damper a little better, and we were able to get to the end,” Neuville explained at the end of the day. “Maybe we still collect some points, but this is not what we expected from this rally. I agree, this is a new car and I know we still have a lot of development work to do, but this needs to be improved.”
Because quite a few riders went up the hill on the treacherous course and lost a lot of time, Neuville is surprisingly still in sixth place in the standings. He is almost eight minutes behind new leader Sébastien Ogier.
A little further on in the top 10 is another Belgian, although he drives with a Luxembourg license. With the less powerful R5 version of the Hyundai i20, Grégoire Munster is in ninth place, and third in the WRC2 category. Freddy Loix also competes in the WRC2 class, but in the Masters category for drivers aged 50 and over. The Limburger – once second overall in the Monte Carlo twice – is in third place there.