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Thierry Neuville moved into second place on Friday’s afternoon loop

Hyundai Motorsport has begun the first proper tarmac rally of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Tour de Corse, with its Belgian crew of Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul completing the first day of competitive action in second overall.

The tight and twisty Corsican roads have offered a very different challenge to what the team faced in Mexico last month, as the trio of Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team crews struggled for consistent pace during Friday’s stages.

Spaniards Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio ended the opening day in seventh overall, two places ahead of the Norwegian crew of Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jæger in ninth.

The opening stage of the rally saw crews negotiate the 49.03km La Porta – Valle di Rostino test, which set a high standard for the remainder of the day. The shorter 13.55km Piedigriggio – Pont de Castirla stage was to follow before midday service. A repeat of the loop in the afternoon gave crews the opportunity to make improvements.

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

  • Crew eager to bounce back after difficult Rally México
  • Moved into second place in the afternoon after difficult start

Neuville said: “It hasn’t been the best of starts to this rally for us, but we know there are some very long stages to come over the weekend so we have to remain positive. In this morning’s loop, we couldn’t find a good feeling with the car. We had no efficiency from the brakes missing some bite. Changes made during lunchtime service were in the right direction and we pushed very hard in the afternoon. Ogier has set a strong pace and we have had to accept we can’t match him so far, but we will keep attacking as best as we can. We are now in second place overall with a small margin to third, so our target is to consolidate our position.”

WRC Crew Notes: Sordo/Del Barrio (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

  • First proper tarmac rally of the year, where Sordo scored a podium last season
  • Spaniards have struggled for competitive times despite good feeling within the car

Sordo said: “I haven’t been very happy with our stage times today, although there has not been anything particularly wrong with the car. In fact, the handling has been quite good during the day. The opening long stage was quite tricky and initially I didn’t have enough confidence. The second stage was better, although there was some gravel pulled onto the road in places. I tried to push a bit in the afternoon but again the times were not forthcoming. The speed at the front is very fast but we will try to find more pace tomorrow to try and get into a top five position.”

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

  • One spin and a small off during the morning loop lost the Norwegians valuable time
  • Crew remain optimistic for better performance for the rest of the event

Mikkelsen said: “Our day was compromised by one spin and a small off in the morning loop, one on each stage, which combined lost us about 50 seconds to the leader. A far from ideal way to start this rally! Still, the car itself performed better than expected, and we found some improvements for the afternoon loop. I drove the car to the limits and kept pushing as much as possible. Now we have found a better feeling since lunchtime service, I hope we can be in better shape tomorrow.”

Corsican conundrum

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “It has not been an easy or satisfying day for our team. The afternoon loop was better than the morning but it’s clear that we have been missing some performance. Ogier has been out front on his own and setting a very high standard. Our challenge now is try to reduce the gap as much as possible. We need to understand where our deficiencies are and the areas where we can find improvements. With such long stages that are a special part of the Tour de Corse DNA, any lack of pace is punished over a greater distance. I hope we can mount a stronger fight tomorrow.”

Saturday’s itinerary at a glance

  • The longest day of the rally will see crews tackle six stages in total with a loop of three run twice, once in the morning and again in the afternoon
  • Getting Saturday underway, the 35.61km Cagnano – Pino – Canari test will be the longest stage of the day, and will be followed by the 15.45km Désert des Agriates.
  • 136.90km of competitive special stages will be contested on the penultimate day running from 7:37 in the morning until the early evening.

Classification after Day One 

1 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Ford Fiesta WRC 1:19:39.0
2 T. Neuville N. Gilsoul Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +33.6
3 K. Meeke P. Nagle Citroën C3 WRC +38.7
4 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Toyota Yaris WRC +44.2
5 E. Lappi J. Ferm Toyota Yaris WRC +1:13.5
6 E. Evans P. Mills Ford Fiesta WRC +1:13.8
7 D. Sordo C. del Barrio Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +1:14.4
8 J. M Latvala M. Anttila Toyota Yaris WRC +1:25.0
9 A. Mikkelsen A. Jæger Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +1:29.2
10 B. Bouffier X. Panseri Ford Fiesta WRC +1:44.8

Press release Hyundai Motorsport


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