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Hyundai Motorsport has ended the first full day of action at Rally Sweden, holding an encouraging 1-2-3 overall

Hyundai Motorsport has completed a competitive opening day of action in Rally Sweden, round two of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship, with its crews leading an incredibly close battle among the WRC field.

At the end of Friday’s action, a total of 140km of tricky snowy stages, Thierry Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul find themselves top of the table with a slender 4.9-second margin over their team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger in second and Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall in third.

Friday’s action consisted of three stages run twice – the 21.26km Hof-Finnskog, 24.88km Svullrya and 19.13km Röjden tests – and a shorter 9.56km stage in Torsby to finish the day. Stages crossed over the Sweden-Norway border, offering a home flavour for Mikkelsen and Jæger, with a lunchtime service in the Swedish service park at Torsby splitting the two loops.

Fresh snowfall made life difficult for those running earlier on the road order, with few visible lines available to negotiate the treacherous stages. Still, conditions were tricky for everyone with most crews content to make it to the end of the day.

The Hyundai Motorsport crews completed Friday’s itinerary in style with a stage 1-2-3 in Torsby, led by Paddon, the team’s first stage lockout with three cars since Rallye Monte-Carlo 2016. Each of the three crews had already registered a stage win earlier in the day with Neuville quickest in SS3, Mikkelsen in SS4 and Paddon in SS5.

At this early stage in a notoriously difficult rally, the team is keeping its expectations in check and with its focus firmly on another trouble-free day on Saturday.

Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

  • Stage win in SS3 (Svullrya) moved Belgians into the lead
  • Stayed in lead for rest of the day, gradually building up their advantage to 4.9 seconds

Neuville said: “What a day! We have just tried to stay focused on the job and doing what we can from our middle road position. We set ourselves the goal being consistent and fast, not making any mistakes. The car has felt good, the settings were spot on and I have felt comfortable. The cars at the front have suffered a bit in the snowy conditions. Every time I pushed I felt that I was creating faster lines for the guys behind to follow, so it was a tricky balance. To have finished the day with all three Hyundai i20 Coupe WRCs in the top-three is a good morale boost, but we know there is a long way to go. We are trying to fight for victory here, but we’ll have to see what we can do tomorrow.”

Crew Notes: Mikkelsen/Jæger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

  • Stage win in SS4 (Röjden), the Norwegian crews tenth in total for Hyundai Motorsport
  • Second overall between their team-mates as part of Hyundai Motorsport 1-2-3

Mikkelsen said: “We have made a good start and for sure it’s great to see all three Hyundai Motorsport crews in the top-three at the end of Friday. We used the morning loop to build our confidence and rhythm. We were able to get better stage-by-stage, culminating in a stage win before lunchtime service. I have been really pleased with our progression. Of course there is no question that the guys first on the road have a disadvantage, but it’s still tricky even for us running later. We took things a bit carefully in places. We have one notch in reserve if we need it, but that brings its own risks. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed driving at home with the stages in Norway today, and I hope that support can see us to a good result come Sunday afternoon.”

Crew Notes: Paddon/Marshall (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

  • First WRC event for crew since scoring a podium in Australia 2017
  • Two stage wins (SS5/SS8) and top-three in classification, 12.1s from lead

Paddon said: “It is great to be back for our first WRC event of 2018. Our objective today was to get the rhythm back. The conditions were not easy. We had to be conscious of keeping the car in the lines, and adapting both the car and my driving to suit the stages. The ruts became really pronounced in the afternoon loop. If you go outside of the lines, you become a passenger in your own car, so we had to pull back a bit at times. The road position has helped but we wanted to have a sensible approach to the day, and a clean run, which we have had. There is room for improvement, but the positions are encouraging and there’ll be more to give tomorrow.”

Three of a kind

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “We have seen some tricky Rally Sweden conditions today and from our team’s perspective it has been a strong start to the weekend. We have to acknowledge that road position has played its part with the earlier cars disadvantaged compared to those running later in the order. Having said that, it was a challenging day for all crews regardless of starting position. We wanted to get all three of our cars to the end of Friday with no problems, and we’ve achieved that. The fact we are currently leading the rally with a 1-2-3 is an added bonus but not something we are getting carried away with. It has been incredibly close today and I expect that to continue. One bad stage and you can lose many positions on the standings, so we have to remain vigilant and keep concentrated on each stage as it comes.”

Saturday’s itinerary at a glance

  • Eight stages will be contested on Saturday, including a repeat loop of the 19.68km Torntorp, 23.40km Hagfors and 14.21km Vargåsen stages.
  • The highlight of the day’s action will be the thrilling Colin’s Crest jump in the Vargåsen stage, where crews will endeavour to record the furthest distance.
  • The final two stages of the day will be the shorter 1.90km Super Special in Karlstad, first run on Thursday evening, and the 3.43km Torsby Sprint.
  • All in all, a total of 120.31km of special stages will be held on the penultimate day with plenty more snowy action forecast.

Classification after Day One

1 T. Neuville N. Gilsoul Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 1:16:13.1
2 A. Mikkelsen A. Jæger Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +4.9
3 H. Paddon S. Marshall Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +12.1
4 C. Breen S. Martin Citroën C3 WRC +12.6
5 M. Østberg T. Eriksen Citroën C3 WRC +13.2
6 T. Suninen M. Markkula Ford Fiesta WRC +29.6
7 E. Lappi J. Ferm Toyota Yaris WRC +38.5
8 J. M. Latvala M. Anttila Toyota Yaris WRC +1:06.2
9 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Toyota Yaris WRC +1:29.0
10 K. Meeke P. Nagle Citroën C3 WRC +1:43.6

Press release Hyundai Motorsport

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