Thierry Neuville began his 2018 World Rally Championship title assault with the fastest time on Wednesday’s Monte Carlo shakedown stage.

Neuville completed the two-mile non-competitive stage in 2m00.2s, edging Hyundai team-mate Dani Sordo by a tenth.

Both drivers set their fastest time on their opening runs, Neuville completed four further runs while Sordo, who is sharing the third Hyundai i20 with Hayden Paddon this year, finished three more runs.

Ott Tanak was third on his debut for Toyota, half a second adrift of Neuville’s benchmark, on his second of five runs.

Completing the top four was Kris Meeke in his Citroen C3. His third run was just 0.7s off Neuville and a tenth quicker than Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen who made it three i20s in the top five.

His former Volkswagen’s team-mates five-time champion Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala were sixth and seventh fastest. Ogier set the pace this time last year on his M-Sport debut.

Evans was eighth in his Fiesta ahead of Craig Breen, Rally Finland winner Espekka Lappi completed the top 10 for Toyota.

Monte specialist Bryan Bouffier was slowest of the WRC runners in 11th, over six seconds off the pacesetter Neuville. The Frenchman was forced to change his co-driver following a pre-shakedown crash, Xavier Panseri steps in fresh from the Dakar.

Fastest of the WRC2 entries was Eric Camilli in a Fiesta R5, ahead of non-points scorer Kalle Rovanpera, Teemu Suninen, Ole Christian Veiby (non-points scorer), Kevin Abbring (Fiesta) and Skoda veteran Jan Kopecky.