Thierry Neuville has expressed his disappointment after he had to retire from Rallye Monte Carlo.
Neuville had begun the opening round in the 2013 FIA World Rally
Championship strongly on Wednesday and following SS3 was fifth overall and the lead M-Sport driver.
However in the next and final test of the day he damaged the front wheel on his Qatar WRT-run Fiesta RS WRC when he clipped a deep rut. The 24-year-old was unable to continue and with no Rally 2/SupeRally on this event, he won't be able to re-start.
“We were working really hard to try and find a good rhythm and finish the rally. We were following the line on SS4 but there was a big cut and we knocked the wheel slightly against the side" Neuville recounted.
"We continued but something did not feel right at all. We stopped to check what was wrong and the front-left wheel had been damaged. Unfortunately we were not able to fix it.
“Obviously this is very frustrating for us as we were quite happy with the pace and running in a really good position [fifth place].
“Yes, this is a difficult rally and these things happen, but it is very disappointing for me.”
M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson meanwhile was philosophical about the Belgian's retirement, although he still believes his other drivers – namely Neuville's team-mate, Juho Hanninen and Qatar M-Sport WRT duo Mads Ostberg
and Evegny Novikov – can do well.
“There has certainly been some drama today. Sadly we lost Thierry on the last stage [SS4] while he was going well, which was obviously disappointing. But if you look at the time differences inside the top-ten, you would have to say that anything is still possible,” Wilson confirmed.