Hyundai Motorsport has ended the opening day of Rally Sweden, the second rally of the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), 8.5-seconds from the lead, having battled uncharacteristic terrain on Friday’s stages.
Running a curtailed itinerary due to a lack of snow and frozen roads, the event got underway this morning with stages across the border in Norway. Conditions were challenging from thin layers of snow and ice to full gravel throughout the day.
Hof-Finnskog (SS2, 21.26km) opened the schedule before a tyre fitting zone at Namnå ahead of Finnskogen (SS3, 20.68km). The third stage, Nyckelvattnet (18.94km), brought crews back into Sweden with the short Torsby Sprint (SS8, 2.8km) held near to the Service Park in the afternoon.
Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja were back in their Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, ready to get their season on track after a difficult Monte-Carlo. The Estonian pair topped the timesheets in Finnskogen to claim their first stage win as a Hyundai Motorsport crew, and ended the day in second place overall, securing the fastest time in Torsby Sprint.
As Monte-Carlo winners, Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul had the honour and disadvantage of opening the road in Sweden. The Belgians completed the first day down in sixth place overall, 23.6-seconds from the leading crew. Meanwhile, Craig Breen and Paul Nagle, in their first WRC event since Wales Rally GB last October, were just behind in seventh overall, showing improvements with each stage.
Friday’s itinerary will be repeated in its entirety on Saturday, offering crews an opportunity to find further improvements, although a different road order and the potential for changing weather conditions could make the second day of Rally Sweden just as challenging.
Crew Notes: Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (#8 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
- Estonians looking to bounce back from tough season opener
- Secured their first Hyundai Motorsport stage wins in SS3 and SS8 (Finnskogen / Torsby Sprint)
Tänak said: “It’s been a good day. Conditions have been quite similar to the recce so we had an idea of what we would face. The start was not so bad. The first stage, especially on the gravel, was actually quite good. I felt nice in the car, it was in the icy places where I was not so confident. The final stage of the morning was a bit more demanding. With only one day of testing in the car, I was not really full of confidence but it’s coming step by step. I am happy to have made it to the end of this first day; we will now analyse all that we’ve learned from today and aim to speed up a bit tomorrow.”
Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (#11 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
- Rallye Monte-Carlo winners were first on Friday’s road order
- The Belgian crew expressed their satisfaction despite the circumstances
Neuville said: “It has been tricky to be first on the road today, but we’ve had a trouble-free run with no mistakes. I’m not happy with the overall classification but I am satisfied with what we’ve done in the car and with the speed. We couldn’t do much more. The first stage was quite consistent but the following two we knew would be trickier. This morning, the layer of ice was very thin in places and the gravel was coming out, which gives more grip to the cars behind. There were also a lot of cuts, where I was the first to discover. This rally is so short, it won’t be possible to catch up a lot of time, but we will fight hard and see what we can achieve tomorrow.”
Crew Notes: Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (#16 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
- Irish pair taking part in their third competitive WRC event with Hyundai Motorsport
- Returning to the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC for first rally since Wales GB in October
Breen said: “It is great to be back in a WRC car; it’s been a while since Wales Rally GB. This is a different Rally Sweden to what we’ve seen in previous years, a much shorter event and missing a lot of the kilometres we should have been doing. As the day went on, I started to get more confidence. It’s always going to take a stage or two to get settled back in; fighting against guys who are in the car all the time, it’s hard to be flat out from the start. I really enjoyed it and I felt we were getting stronger with each kilometre. Tomorrow, it could be difficult to make much of a difference, but we’ll certainly try.”
Team Principal Andrea Adamo: “Not the kind of day we love to see. Clearly the starting order and the stage conditions have not been favourable for us, but this is not an excuse at all. Sure, it’s not a typical Rally Sweden but we compete in the conditions that are presented to us. Ultimately, the roads are the same for everybody; we simply should have been faster. We have to work harder to find more speed and performance. We have to remain focused. Tomorrow is a different day, although, sadly for us, another short one.”
Saturday at a glance
- The second day’s action will follow an identical structure to Friday with four stages
- Hof-Finnskog 2 (21.26km) will be followed by a remote tyre fitting zone before Finnskogen 2 (20.68km) and Nyckelvattnet 2 (18.94km)
- The weekend’s second running of Torsby Sprint will conclude Saturday, a total of 63.68km of competitive stage distance.
Classification after Day One
|1||E. Evans||S. Martin||Toyota Yaris WRC||30:43.7|
|2||O. Tänak||M. Järveoja||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||+8.5|
|3||K. Rovanperä||J. Halttunen||Toyota Yaris WRC||+14.3|
|4||S. Ogier||J. Ingrassia||Toyota Yaris WRC||+17.8|
|5||E. Lappi||J. Ferm||Ford Fiesta WRC||+20.9|
|6||T. Neuville||N. Gilsoul||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||+23.6|
|7||C. Breen||P. Nagle||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||+24.2|
|8||T. Suninen||J. Lehtinen||Ford Fiesta WRC||+31.4|
|9||T. Katsuta||D. Barritt||Toyota Yaris WRC||+49.6|
Press release Hyundai Motorsport