Hyundai Motorsport’s Ott Tanak leads the way following the opening day of FIA World Rally Championship action for 2021 at Rallye Monte Carlo. The Enstonian and his co-driver Martin Jarveoja took victory in the opening two special stages and go into Friday’s action leading the rally by 3.3s from Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Kalle Rovanpera and speaking following the opening day of action, Tanak said:

At the start, it was looking like quite a simple start to Monte-Carlo; we never started before in daylight and with consistent conditions. The second one, with more cuts and muddy places, was very demanding and with lots of surprises. We have more stability with the car compared to last year and definitely better feedback. Overall, in wet conditions, the Pirelli tyres have some grip and seem to have good performance but in other places, when you hit some mud or some dirt, the step is quite big. It’s something we still need to learn and get experience.

Thierry Neuville ended the day in fourth place overall with his new co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe, 14s behind their team mate Tanak and speaking following the action Neuville said:

Everything went quite OK in these opening stages. It was all pretty new for Martijn in the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, driving at fast speeds, so we have to be satisfied. We didn’t know what to expect with no shakedown or testing together, but it worked well. We have some things to improve with the in-car communication over the weekend, but he has done a good job so far. I was able to drive at a good rhythm without taking any big risks. The first stage went well but we perhaps lost a bit too much on the second one. Tomorrow is a much longer, trickier day and I expect a more difficult tyre choice; we look forward to it.”

Dani Sordo had a disappointing opening day ending up in sixth overall with the team eager to check over the car tonight and hopeful of a stronger day on Friday. Speaking following the action Sordo said:

This is not the way we were hoping to start this rally. I had a weird feeling from the car right from before the first stage. There was a noise that I have never heard before, perhaps in the differential, it sounded like something was not fixed properly. We need to check to see what it is. The rally is very long and tomorrow we are expecting some different conditions but honestly, I wanted more from today. I was confident I could do well on the first stage which is why I think something is not quite right. We need to keep pushing.

Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Andrea Adamo says that Monte Carlo showed its DNA today:

Monte-Carlo has shown its DNA today with two tricky stages to start this new season of WRC. I have to say thanks to the organisers, the FIA and the Promoter for making this rally happen considering the situation we all face. We have some early starts ahead of us but that’s a fine compromise to run this special event. It’s early days but Ott has had a great start with two stage wins. Thierry is trying to put things together with his new co-driver Martijn, while for Dani we hope for a better performance tomorrow because today is far from the level we were hoping.

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