Thierry Neuville has been reprimanded for running the internal combustion engine of his Hyundai i20 N Rally1 as he left Saturday’s tire fitting zone on the Monte Carlo Rally.
Neuville endured a torrid second full-day on the 2022 World Rally Championship season-opener as his front-right damper broke on the first stage and caused him strife throughout the whole leg.
With hybrid technology incorporated into the WRC for the first time this season, new HEV [hybrid electric vehicle] zones have been implemented into rally itineraries, with all service park areas requiring the Rally1 cars to run in electric mode only.
Monte Carlo leader Sébastien Ogier was the first driver to receive a penalty for not strictly abiding by these new rules over the start ramp on Thursday evening, but was excused given the length of his start ramp interview.
Neuville however didn’t go unpunished as he was handed a reprimand for breaching Article 34.1.7 of the WRC’s sporting regulations which revolves around the HEV zones.
An event stewards’ document stated that Pablo Marcos, Hyundai Motorsport’s sporting director, “called his engineering colleague who was at the TFZ [tire fitting zone] to find out why the car had not left the area using hybrid power as indicated in Road Book 2.
“The engineer stated that the car would not engage immediately and required a power cycle to engage the EV mode. This takes around 45 seconds and they were tight for time to get to TC11D without incurring a penalty.
“Once at the time control, the crew did perform a power cycle and drove into the Tire Marking Zone on hybrid power.”
Jérôme Touqet, the FIA technical delegate, told the stewards that the Hyundai “technicians were working on the car No.11 till the last available minute at the TFZ to affect repairs to the car’s damper”.
Neuville and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe were due at the time control at 1.32pm and arrived at 13:32.41, “meaning they had less than 18 seconds to spare before they would receive a time penalty”.
However the stewards ultimately decided that the competing crew “did not leave sufficient time to power cycle their hybrid unit and still reach TC11D on time”.
It doesn’t affect Neuville’s overall position as he remains sixth overall, but it was his second offense of the day after he clocked a €900 [$1021] fine for exceeding the speed limit in Saturday morning service.