This is a VERY big season for Thierry Neuville – his seventh at Hyundai Motorsport, and with plenty of rally wins but no world driver titles to shout about, the team’s (until now) undisputed number one is under pressure, having been joined in ‘his team’ by the reigning world champion Ott Tänak.

And back in the service area, monitoring ever inch of performance, is Team Principal Andrea Adamo – a boss who we have seen today is ruthlessly able and willing to replace a nine time world champion, and then make no secret of the fact that he’s dropped Sébastien Loeb in favour of Craig Breen for Rally Sweden to “field the most competitive package possible for the event”.

In what could have been (and might still become) an explosively pressurised team to be in, Neuville rose to the occasion at Rallye Monte-Carlo in the only way elite sportsmen and women can. Setting fastest time on all four of the final day’s stages (nine in total out of 16), he and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul moved from third to first and scored a full house of 30 maximum points by setting fastest time on the Power Stage.

It was Neuville’s 13th WRC win of his career, as he became the first Belgian driver to win Rallye Monte-Carlo since Jacques Edouard Ledure in 1924. Far more important is the fact that he’s leading the world championship, has enabled Hyundai to take an early lead in the manufacturers’ standings, re-established himself as undisputed number one and, for now at least, he remains Adamo’s blue-eyed boy. All in all, it was an exceptionally good rally for Neuville!

“This is an amazing way to start the season and a fantastic feeling,” said Neuville at the finish in Monaco. “I am really pleased that we have finally taken victory in Monte-Carlo; it’s been something we’ve chased for a while. We’ve come close before but now we’ve done it. It has not been an easy weekend, but I have picked up confidence as the event progressed, working very closely with the team and my gravel crew, who have done a great job. We’ve really been able to increase our feeling and comfort in the car the past few days. I could really push, and we’ve seen the results from the stage times. We were also able to take maximum points in the Power Stage. Our thirteenth WRC win – such a lucky number! My thanks to the whole team, it’s the perfect way to start a new season.”

Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul wear Stilo WRC DES Zero helmets.

Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai, FIA World Rally Championship, Monte Carlo, motorsport, motor sport