The Belgian Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) was imperial this weekend to clinch victory in the Monte-Carlo Rally on Sunday, depriving the Frenchman Sébastien Ogier (Toyota) of a record tenth coronation in the event.
After making a small mistake on Friday, a spin which cost him around ten seconds, Neuville showed himself to be uncompromising on Saturday and Sunday and outclassed all his opponents, and in particular the local hero, to win the twentieth victory of his career, the second in the Principality after 2020. The Belgian took control of the race from the second special on Saturday morning and in the afternoon, he reacted immediately after losing the leader's chair to regain his first place to the detriment of Ogier at the end of the last special of the day.
On Sunday, he flew through the end of the event by winning the three scratches of the day including the Power Stage, thus increasing his lead over Ogier. The Briton Elfyn Evans (Toyota), who was in the lead until halfway, completes the podium. Neuville achieved plenty of points during this inaugural round of the season and is already a favorite for the world title while the double Finnish title holder Kalle Rovanperä will only complete a partial program this season, just like Ogier.
“I have no words... This weekend was fantastic. I felt great, the car was incredible and the team did a great job. We were the bosses this weekend. It’s promising for the rest of the season, even if there is still work to do,” said the Belgian. “It’s great to win this rally because it’s one of the legendary races in motorsport. I am delighted and relieved. Thierry (Neuville) and the whole team put in a real demonstration all weekend. This victory is completely deserved,” added Frenchman Cyril Abiteboul, boss of the Hyundai team.
Ogier, eight-time world champion and nine-time Monte-Carlo winner, appeared very emotional at the end of the race. “It was a superb battle with Thierry (Neuville). Well done to him, he was very quick, there is nothing more to say. It's been a difficult week for me, I've been through a roller coaster of emotions. I lost someone very important to me at the start of the week, then I was in difficulty on Friday,” he stressed.
Frenchman Adrien Fourmaux (M-Sport/Ford), back this season in the premier category of the WRC after a year at the lower tier (WRC2), took a fine fifth place, while his compatriot Yohann Rossel (DG Sport /Citroën), who finished 8th in the rally, took victory in the WRC2 category, as in 2023. The second rally of the season will take place in three weeks in Sweden, in the presence of double reigning world champion Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota).