Jok 160X600

Thierry Neuville will head into the final day with an 11-second deficit to the rally lead after taking two stage wins on Saturday afternoon

Hyundai Motorsport remains in contention for victory at Wales Rally GB, round 12 of the 14-event 2019 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), with Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul moving up into second place overall.

A consistently strong performance during the day saw the Belgian crew claim two stage wins to keep within striking distance of the rally leader. The pair hold an 11-second deficit with five stages still to contest on Sunday.

Saturday has been a gruelling one for all crews without the luxury of a midday service. The schedule covered a total of 151.24km of special stages with just a remote tyre fitting zone at Newtown in between the two main loops, and a light fitting zone ahead of the day’s finale.

The three main stages were each similar in length with Dyfi (25.86km) marginally longer ahead of Myherin (22.91km) and Sweet Lamb Hafren (25.65km). Conditions remained typical of the Welsh rally with wet, slippery and muddy conditions requiring crews to be fully concentrated throughout the loop. The day ended with a shorter 2.4km seafront stage at Colwyn Bay, held in dark and wet conditions in front of numerous spectators.

While Neuville took a stage win in SS14 (Myherin 2) and SS16 (Dyfi 2), Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jæger-Amland scored the fastest time on SS15 (Sweet Lamb Hafren 2) on a competitive afternoon loop for the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC. The Norwegians moved up into fifth place on Saturday, but face a strong challenge from local hero Elfyn Evans, who is 4.5-seconds back in sixth spot.

For Craig Breen and Paul Nagle, the penultimate day of Wales Rally GB was a dramatic one. The Irishmen emerged unscathed from a roll on the first run through Myherin (SS12) but with a cracked windscreen and other damage to their car, which they had to manage for the remainder of the day. In the wet and wild Welsh conditions, it proved to be an arduous Saturday for the crew as they made it back to service in ninth overall.

Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (#11 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

  • Stage wins in SS14 (Myherin 2) and SS16 (Dyfi 2) showed the Belgians’ pace
  • Moved up into second place overall, just 11 seconds from the rally lead

Neuville said: “We have given everything today, and we are still in with a chance of pushing for victory. I’m pleased with what we’ve achieved. We were able to move into third place during the morning, trying really hard to minimise mistakes. In these conditions, it’s usual to lose the odd second here or there, but overall we’ve had a positive Saturday. Two stage wins this afternoon helped move us up into second, and we’re now determined to reduce the gap, if we can, on Sunday. 11 seconds is not a lot on stages like these, when just the smallest issue can change things around: it’s still game on! ”

Crew Notes: Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger-Amland (#89 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

  • Fastest time in SS15 (Sweet Lamb Hafren) on strong afternoon for the team
  • Fighting for fifth position in a bid to score important manufacturer points

Mikkelsen said: “It’s been a long day but we have given it as much of a push as we could in some very tricky conditions. In many respects, it’s been a classic Wales Rally GB Saturday with familiar, beautiful stages, some typical wet weather, and challenging conditions. The car has been pretty good throughout the day. We have made some small mistakes here and there, but we were able to show some strong pace, including a stage win in SS15. We’re in a close battle with Elfyn for fifth place. He’s been driving really well today, so we’ll have to dig deep on the final morning to keep our noses in front.”

Crew Notes: Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (#42 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

  • Crew emerged unharmed after dramatic roll in SS12 (Myherin)
  • Losing five minutes of time, the Irishmen hold ninth place overall

Breen said: “A day to forget for us. Thankfully, we were able to get ourselves out of trouble in SS12 after a pretty big accident. We approached a fast left-hand corner that tightened a bit more than I expected. I ran out of road and ended up going over through some soft, boggy ground. I got out of the car and quickly realised that everything was pointing in the right direction, so we drove up the bank and completed the stage. The windscreen had cracked so I couldn’t see properly. We had to survive like this throughout the afternoon loop, with rainy, muddy conditions making it impossible to see. I was glad to get back to service, where we will now reset for the final day.”

Team Director Andrea Adamo: “This has been an amazing day with some spirited performances from our crews, as well as some heartbreaking moments. Thierry has had a fantastic Saturday to remain in close contention for victory. Andreas, too, had a great afternoon after Evans had caught up considerable time throughout the morning. He bounced back to end the day in a positive manner including a stage win. We didn’t need the mistake from Craig but these things can happen in motorsport, so we just have to accept it and move on.”

Sunday at a glance

  • Five stages will make up Sunday’s itinerary; two runs through Alwen (10.41km) and Brenig (6.43km), and a solitary attempt at the 4.74km Great Orme
  • The second pass through Brenig will act as the rally ending Power Stage, where the top-five fastest crews will be rewarded with extra drivers’ championship points.

Classification after Day Two

1 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Toyota Yaris WRC 2:42:02.7
2 T. Neuville N. Gilsoul Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +11.0
3 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Citroën C3 WRC +17.3
4 K. Meeke S. Marshall Toyota Yaris WRC +26.5
5 A. Mikkelsen A. Jæger-Amland Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +46.9
6 E. Evans S. Martin Ford Fiesta WRC +51.4
7 T. Suninen J. Lehtinen Ford Fiesta WRC +3:07.9

Press release Hyundai Motorsport


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