2019 champion Ott Tanak retired from leading positions in Portugal and Sardinia, while Neuville surrendered the lead on Safari Rally Kenya with damper failure and saw his hopes of a positive result on the Acropolis Rally dashed when the power steering unit on the Korean supermini failed.

A starter motor issue almost cost Neuville victory on last month’s Rally Spain when the car refused to fire up in the regroup area before the end-of-rally Power Stage. A push start from team-mate Martijn Wydaeghe eventually got the car going again but not before fire and smoke billowed from the exhaust. 

Asked by Crash.Net if reliability was the area Hyundai’s engineers needed to home in on when developing their hybrid-powered Rally 1 car, he said: “Definitely.  

“To win a championship you need a reliable car and that was the strength of our car in the previous two seasons when we won the Manufacturers’ [Championship].  

“We missed it this year. We have seen many times Hyundai retiring from the lead. There have been several reasons and sometimes there have been no reason, and it happened.  

“Like I mentioned, we put our heads up and we continue pushing. I resigned [with Hyundai back in May] for three more years and I am convinced the new car is going to be the one to have,” he added. 

While Hyundai has faltered, Toyota has enjoyed one of the most successful campaigns since it re-joined the sport’s top-flight, scoring victories on eight of the eleven rounds that have been held so far. 

Arriving in Italy this week for the final event with a 47-point lead, Toyota need only six more points at Rally Monza to seal the title – the equivalent of one of the three nominated crews finishing inside the top seven places. 

Despite the odds being stacked firmly in their favour, Team Principal Jari-Matti Latvala is keen to point out that Monza will “provide a challenging finale”. 

He said: “We are excited to go to Monza with a great chance to secure all three championship titles – something which has been our dream to achieve.  

“It would be the perfect way for us to finish the World Rally Car era and the last race for our Yaris WRC that debuted in 2017, when I was one of the drivers.  

“I hope that everything will go to plan and we will be able to clinch the manufacturers’ championship, but in motorsport we know that nothing is certain until you’ve reached the finish.”