Neuville’s Sunday sweep secures WRC Monte Carlo Rally victory

Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville opened his 2024 WRC title bid with a win on the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally on Sunday.

The Hyundai i20 N driver (above) racked up his 20th FIA World Rally Championship victory and his second on the Monte with an imposing performance in the French Alps, banking a perfect score of 30 points alongside co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe. The Belgian duo mastered the ice-patched mountain roads to head Toyota Gazoo Racing rival Sebastien Ogier by 16.1s at the finish.

Neuville shrugged aside early engine issues before launching an attack on Saturday, overtaking both Ogier and his Toyota teammate and early leader Elfyn Evans to storm into the lead with a slender 3.3s advantage at the end of the leg. A clean sweep of fastest times in Sunday’s three-stage finale cemented his position ahead of nine-time Monte Carlo winner Ogier.

Thierry Neuville kept up the pressure on Sunday’s final leg to secure his second Monte Carlo Rally win.


“I don’t have the words, to be honest,” said Neuville after finishing the final stage on the iconic Col de Turini. “It was just so great this weekend — I felt so comfortable in the car.

“The whole team was doing an amazing job and I think the whole package was working really well,” he added. “There are always things to improve, so of course we need to continue working, but we are very happy to win this rally.”

Ogier, who’s running only a limited WRC schedule this season, led for a single stage on Saturday afternoon, but the Frenchman could not hold off Neuville despite his best efforts. 

“It’s been a nice battle with Thierry,” said eight-time WRC champ Ogier. “Well done to him, he’s been really fast this weekend.”

Sebastien Ogier enjoyed the battle with Thierry Neuville, but fell short of a 10th Monte Carlo Rally win. Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool

Evans held the upper hand after Friday’s opening leg, but time ebbed away from him on Saturday, not helped by a hybrid unit problem on his GR Yaris Rally1. He eventually finished 29.1s behind his teammate, Ogier.

Ott Tanak, returning to Hyundai after a season with M-Sport Ford, placed fourth on his first rally back with the German-based squad. Mystery engine problems hindered the 2019 WRC champ throughout the rally, although a stage win for the Estonian on Saturday morning confirmed his potential with the i20 N Rally1 in 2024 guise.

Adrien Fourmaux equaled his career-best WRC result by finishing fifth overall in his M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1. Behind him was Hyundai debutant Andreas Mikkelsen, with Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta almost three minutes further back in seventh after sliding off the road on Friday.

Adrien Fourmaux matched his best WRC finish with a fifth place for M-Sport Ford. Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool

In WRC2, the second tier of international rallying, Yohan Rossel stormed past Pepe Lopez and Nikolay Gryazin on Sunday’s short leg to claim back-to-back Monte Carlo Rally class wins.

Starting Sunday’s final leg 6.9s behind fellow Citroen C3 driver Gryazin, Rossel clawed back 3.9s from the Bulgarian in frosty conditions on the opening stage, matching Lopez’s time.

With the bit between his teeth, Rossel continued his charge, outpacing Lopez’s Skoda Fabia RS by 5.8s and Gryazin by 8.6s on the penultimate stage. That propelled the 28-year-old Frenchman to within two tenths of a second behind Lopez going into the rally-closing Wolf Power Stage, and also relegated Gryazin to third.

Maintaining his momentum, Rossel completed a clean sweep of stage wins to claim victory by 4.0s over Lopez, despite having worn out his car’s tires.  

“It’s crazy; it’s an incredible feeling,” said an elated Rossel.

Yohan Rossel pulled out all the stops on Sunday’s final leg to grab a WRC2 class win. Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool

Round two of the WRC takes place on the snow and ice of Rally Sweden. The series’ only pure winter rally, based in Umea on Feb. 15-18, is one of the fastest events of the season.  

WRC Monte Carlo Rally, final positions after Leg Three, SS17
1 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1) +3h09m30.9s
2 Sebastien Ogier/Vincent Landais (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1) +16.1s
3 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1) +45.2s
4 Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1) +1m59.8s
5 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (Ford Puma Rally1) +3m36.9s
6 Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (Hyundai i20 N Rally1) +5m34.6s
7 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1) +8m28.5s
8 Yohan Rossel/Arnaud Dunand (Citroen C3 – WRC2 winner) +10m29.8s
9 Pepe Lopez/David Vazquez (Skoda Fabia RS – WRC2) +10m33.8s
10 Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov (Citroen C3 – WRC2) +10m45.2s

WRC Drivers’ Championship after 1 round
Neuville 30 points 
2 Ogier 24
3 Evans 21
4 Tanak 15
5 Fourmaux 11

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Story originally appeared on Racer