The Belgians were fifth overall heading into the second pass of ‘Patajoki’, 26.1 seconds behind the Toyota Yaris World Rally Car of Easpekka Lappi whose place they were gunning for.

However, 10.5km into the stage they pulled off the road and parked their i20 Coupe WRC on an access road. Prior to that, in-car footage showed them travelling along at a much-reduced speed with the bonnet-mounted spotlights flailing about.

It has since emerged that a heavy compression over a jump caused the lights to come lose, which in turned resulted in damage to the car’s radiator.

“Everything was going well and after a few Ks into the stage there was a fast, flat left corner out of the crest with some compression and with the compression the lights came off,” Neuville explained.

“I immediately got a water pressure alarm [on the dash] and three corners later I saw that the temperature was going higher and higher, so we knew it would be difficult to get to the end.

"We tried our best to solve the issue, but the leak was too big and we had to retire the car. It is a shame as it had been a good day, but unfortunately there was nothing we could do,” added Neuville, whose chances of winning the WRC drivers’ title for a first time this season now appear all but over.

“I spoke to Sebastien [Ogier] and he told me he had a big compression over the same section. There must be something [there, on the road] but I don’t know. Maybe he pulled out a rock? I couldn’t see and I have had no time yet to investigate it.”

The Hyundai Motorsport team has since confirmed Neuville and Wydaeghe will not re-join the action on Sunday due to the extent of the engine damage.

“Up until that point he was doing much better than yesterday that’s for sure,” said Team boss, Andrea Adamo.

“He was more confident with the car; but it looks like this rally is not his rally.”