“It will be difficult with no Rally 2 this year, so that makes it all the more important to have a clean run and finish every stage. This will only be my second time competing [on the Monte], so it is important to gain as much experience and knowledge as possible. Of course, I will push where I can and when I have confidence, but we won't be taking any big risks. The most important thing is to finish and score some good points for the team.”
Both Neuville and Hanninen will be making their competitive debuts in the Ford Fiesta RS WRC this weekend, but both have at least run on the Monte before. It will be Neuville's third time on the event, although he has yet to score points there, while Hanninen will be making his debut in a World Rally Car, but has an impressive record on the event, having finished second to Mikko Hirvonen's Ford Fiesta S2000 in the 2010 running, which formed part of the IRC rather than WRC competition.
“We had a very good test [on Thursday], so I am feeling positive ahead of the event,” Neuville confirmed, “This will be my first competitive outing in the Fiesta [RS WRC] and we leant a lot about set-up and tyre choices, which is good. There is still a lot to do - we just need to make sure we have a good recce to get a feel for the stages and be as well prepared as possible.
“For sure, this is a difficult event, especially for us with this being our first event with the new car. This rally is a lot like a lottery so, if you finish with no problems, you are likely to not be in a bad position. If we can secure a top-ten finish on our first rally with the team then that would be a good result for us on this difficult event.”
“The difficulty with Monte Carlo is that, as a driver, you need to understand that you cannot be the quickest all of the time,” Hanninen added, “This event is all about compromise - sometimes you need to drive slower than you might naturally want to and tyre selection can make all the difference.
“Thanks to last week's test especially, I am feeling really confident with the car. There is still a lot to learn, but we have a lot of kilometres behind the wheel now. Our confidence is growing all the time and we are ready to rally.
“I want to finish the event - it would of course be a pity to go home on day one - but my main goal is to set some good stage times and try to challenge some of the more experienced WRC drivers. Many of the stages I know from the past, and we want to be in Monaco on Friday and Saturday.”