The Belgian endured a torrid weekend which heralded the start of the Championship’s new hybrid era that means top tier cars draw their power from a petrol engine and an electric motor.

The energy recovery system proved particularly problematic in Neuville’s I20 N Rally1 machine, with his willingness to extend the supermini’s legs affected by a choppy ride and understeer in faster sections.

With any hope of a top-three result beyond him going into Sunday’s final four stages, Neuville decided to go for broke on the Power Stage, with a maximum haul of five points the target.

Despite his best efforts, he could only manage the third quickest time to collect three points to place him fifth in the drivers’ standings, four shy of Craig Breen who is on fifteen and a further two adrift of Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Kalle Rovanpera.

With event winner Sebastien Loeb and runner-up Sebastien Ogier only likely to complete partial programmes in 2022 with M-Sport Ford and Toyota respectively, their first and second positions are largely redundant.

“At the end of this rally, we are left with feelings of disappointment and frustration,” he said. “We had a tough weekend. I drove for my life in the Power Stage, I gave it absolutely everything, so I was disappointed with the time.

“There has been a huge amount of work behind the scenes to prepare for this event, from me and Martijn [Wydaeghe, co-driver] as well as the team, so to come away without any reward is hard to accept.

“We won’t give up. We are trying to keep everyone motivated and we will continue pushing,” he continued. “The will is definitely there and that’s important.

“There are different areas we are going to work on but most important is the reliability. We need to be much stronger for the upcoming events.”

Hyundai Motorsport’s Deputy Team Director agreed the overall speed and reliability of the I20 N was far from where it needs to be, even at the beginning of a fresh rules cycle.

“It has definitely been a tough rally for us. I am disappointed for all the team who have pushed so hard, those at the rally and those at the factory. We have to reace,” said Julien Moncet.

“From a sporting point of view, I am not happy because we are here to win, and the result is not according to our expectations. Nevertheless, we have been able to check a lot of systems on our new Hyundai i20 N Rally1 car, and there are always good things to take out of even the most difficult moments.

“When the car ran trouble-free, we could show some competitive times so the pace is there. We just have to sort out our issues as quickly as possible.”