Ott Tänak finished fourth after day one proper of the Monte Carlo Rally, the opening round of the 2024 World Rally Championship (WRC) season.
While the Estonian had finished first in each of three pre-race test runs on Wednesday, this form did not continue into the first point-scoring day of the event as the Hyundai appeared to be dogged with problems.
Tänak said after stage two (of two on Thursday) said: "The issue with the acceleration got much worse. To be honest, I'm delighted just to have made it. It's unbelievable what this car is doing no."
His teammate Andreas Mikkelsen had also reported simliar proglems with the i20.
Eight WRC top tier cars are racing, including Tänak, who rejoined Hyundai after a season with M-Sport Ford last year.
"We are starting the year with a clean slate and a strong season is up to us. Of course, our goal is to win the World championship, and it's the team's goal too. It looks set to be an exciting year."
Tänak rejoins Belgian Thierry Neuville at Hyundai, though over at Toyota, Finn Kalle Rovanperä, who won his first title in 2022 and is the reining champ also, has opted to run a partial season, making Welshman Elfyn Evans Toyota's lead driver for 2023.
Veteran French driver Sebastien Ogier and Takamoto Katsuta also race for Toyota in the principality, while Tänak's former team M-Sport is being represented by Adrien Fourmaux and Gregoire Munster.
No other teams have raced in the top level of the WRC circuit for several years now.
Rally Monte Carlo since it takes place on high ground in January, on asphalt roads, can be challenging for drivers and can bring changeable weather.
On Thursday, Tänak finished second in the opening stage, but due to the tehnical issues during stage two, he finished a full 22.8 seconds behind stage winner Evans at the end of the day's events.
Evans was runner-up in the 2023 season and so looks to be among the strongest contender for this year, with the competition between him and Tänak and Neuville, across three different teams, something to look out for.
Neuville places second going into day two, Ogier third, Tänak fourth as noted, Formaux fifth, Katsuta sixth, Munster seventh and Mikkelsen, also suffering with technical issues, in eighth place.
Six stages take place today starting from 9.51 a.m. Estonian time and ending a bit before 8 p.m.
Six more stages follow on Saturday, and three on Sunday.
The WRC points system has been changed ahead of the 2024 season, though at the time of writing this is hanging in the balance due to negative feedback.
The new system nonetheless remains in place for Monte Carlo. Whereas under the former system, a rally winner took 25 points, the final power stage excluded, with second and third placers getting 18 and 15 points respectively, now the points are spread out more broadly, from first to tenth place in increments as follows: 18, 15, 13, 10, 8, 6, 4, 3, 2 and 1
These points are awarded as things stand at the end of the Saturday stage, ie. standings at the end of the penultimate day, while the top seven finishers earn extra points on Sunday. The power stage, issuing points to the top five fastest teams, remains in place.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Kristjan Kallaste