Like his team-mates Ott Tanak and Oliver Solberg, Neuville has endured a challenging start to the World Rally Championship’s new hybrid regulations.

On Thursday evening, the energy recovery system on Tanak’s car failed to work properly, with Neuville encountering similar problems on and off during Friday’s six stages.

On SS7 an 'EV error' flashed up on the Belgian’s instrument screen meaning he could not take advantage of the electric motor's extra 135hp. The supemini’s ride and handling has also been a cause of concern, with Neuville describing the set-up as “scary” due to understeer and damping setbacks.

Solberg, meanwhile, revealed towards the end of Friday that his supermini had been struck down with a recalcitrant gearbox, although it has not been confirmed if that was the cause for the smoke that filled his car’s cabin during this morning’s opening loop.

“If you look at the stage times today, we’ve improved but the feeling in the car still needs some work,” said Neuville, a previous winner of the event two seasons ago with former co-driver, Nicolas Gilsoul.

“It is difficult to have a constant balance and to find the confidence under braking. We have been making improvements all the time.

“The target remains to get maximum mileage from this rally, and to understand in which areas we must improve. I think we are at the limit on what we can do this weekend.”

Hyundai’s Deputy Team Director admitted that, so far, things have not unfolded as everyone involved with the project had envisaged but is confident his team can turn the corner with the new car quickly.

“Today was a bit of a rollercoaster with some ups and some downs that we have had to work through,” said Julien Moncet. “The positive thing is that once all our issues have been sorted out, the car is competitive. We set some good stage times, so we must work hard to sort out all the issues.

“Thierry had a few troubles with the e-kit, on the hardware side, that we have to look at. He did, however, make progress with the car set-up to try and build confidence. The same for Ott, who had no problems. Oliver had a steady day to bring the car home, as we asked. That was the key point for today: to get more mileage.”