The 2022 WRC season opener Rallye Monte-Carlo has continued to offer a harsh test for the all-new Rally1 cars with drama up and down the classification on the penultimate day Thierry Neuville remains the highest-placed Hyundai Motorsport driver in sixth overall, despite struggling with a front-right damper issue on most stages Oliver Solberg overcame an off-road incident on SS10 to complete the day, but Ott Tänak was forced to retire from the rally after incurring car damage in SS11.
Hyundai Motorsport has endured a troubled Saturday on Rallye Monte-Carlo, the opening event of the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), with all three crews encountering issues that hampered their progress.
There are few positives to report from the penultimate day after Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe, Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja and Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson all battled different problems. Just five stages were run on Saturday’s itinerary – with no midday service – but there were challenges aplenty for the all-new hybrid powered Rally1 cars.
The opening test, the sole run through Le Fugeret / Thorame-Haute (16.80km), saw Solberg go off the road at a right-hander 9.8km into the stage, and down the bank. The crew was unhurt, and the car was salvaged with help from spectators, enabling them to continue their rally. They had been disturbed by the intake of exhaust fumes inside the cockpit, an issue which the team monitored closely during the day.
A slow puncture for Tänak on SS9 was only the start of a disappointing loop for the Estonian pair. They completed SS10 (Saint-Jeannet/Malijai – 17.04km) safely but a front impact on their Hyundai i20 N Rally1 on the icy SS11 (Saint-Geniez/Thoard – 20.79km) forced them to retire on the road section.
Meanwhile, Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe struggled with a front-right damper problem from midway through the opening loop. The Belgians carried out some remote repairs during midday regroup, with only a tyre fitting zone at Digne-les-Bains before the afternoon’s two stages. The issue persisted during the repeat of Saint-Jeannet/Malijai (SS12), forcing them to nurse the car through to the stage-end. A valiant effort from the crew to ease the problem on the road section allowed them to make the final test of the day – with its tricky ice and snow-covered section at Col de Fontbelle – and safely back to the Monaco service park.
Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (#11 Hyundai i20 N Rally1)
Front-right damper issue dominated the Belgians’ day
Crew showed incredible tenacity to make it back to Monaco
Neuville said: “I don’t know what to say, really. We have made it through the day somehow after experiencing an ongoing issue with the front-right damper. At the start of the middle morning stage (SS10), the car suddenly felt like it was pulling to one side, but it was only at the end we realised that the top-mount fixation of the damper was gone. We kept fighting, although it was a bit of a struggle without lunchtime service. We had to carry out some repairs ourselves in between the two loops, but a few kilometres into SS12 the damper came through the bonnet. We then did some fixes on the road section before the final stage, but it gave up again in the final kilometres. It’s been a day of survival.”
Crew Notes: Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (#2 Hyundai i20 N Rally1)
Crew required assistance from spectators after going off the road in SS10
Solberg equalled his best-ever WRC stage result with joint third-fastest time in SS13
Solberg said: “We had the same issue with fuel fumes coming into the car as we have had on the previous days. In SS10, we lost concentration in the middle of the stage and went off the road at a medium speed right-hander. Miraculously, we got the car out and could continue the rally. I really didn’t think we would manage it – we had about 25 people pushing, pulling, and dragging the car out. Thankfully it was just cosmetic damage. We used the afternoon as another valuable learning experience. Setting the joint third-fastest time through a snowy SS13, equalling my best-ever stage result, was a nice way to end to a really difficult day.”
Crew Notes: Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (#8 Hyundai i20 N Rally1)
Puncture on SS9 set the scene for a frustrating Saturday
Front-end damage caused on the icy SS11 stage resulted in retirement
Tänak said: “The car felt OK today, there was no real drama. The puncture on the first stage was one of those things that happen. We continued but with no spare tyre left we had to keep things as tidy as possible. Unfortunately, in the final stage on the icy conditions, we made a very small, but ultimately costly mistake. We picked up some damage and that was it. We were leaking coolant and the engine was overheating so we had to stop the car on the road section. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to continue tomorrow but we are committed to learning from this challenging weekend to build for the rest of the season.”
Deputy Team Director Julien Moncet said: “It’s been a tough day after the promising results that we demonstrated on Friday. We faced a lot of issues on the three different cars which can happen on the early rallies of a new season with brand new regulations. Ott had front damage that caused him to retire. On Thierry’s, we had a damper problem which he managed well and will be back in service to prepare for the final day. On Oliver’s car, we had a recurrence of fumes coming into the cockpit. We monitored the situation very closely during the day and managed to get the crew to the end of the day safely. We will be investigating this again to find a solution. We hope for a better day tomorrow.”
Sunday at a glance
Four stages remain on the final day of Rallye Monte-Carlo, two stages each run twice
The opening timed test, La Penne/Collongues (19.37km), sees crews return to the Alpes Maritimes before tackling Briançonnet/Entrevaux (14.26km)
There will be no opportunity for service before the two stages are repeated with the latter acting as the Power Stage, where extra points will be available for the five fastest crews.
Classification after Day Three
1 S. Ogier B. Veillas Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 2:19:43.1
2 S. Loeb I. Galmiche Ford Puma Rally1 +21.1
3 C. Breen P. Nagle Ford Puma Rally1 +1:26.0
4 K. Rovanperä J. Halttunen Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +2:03.8
5 G. Greensmith J. Andersson Ford Puma Rally1 +6:33.8
6 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +7:44.1
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