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WRC – Home rally heartache for Hyundai Motorsport on penultimate day in Germany

2017GERMANY_RM_064Hyundai Motorsport faces an uphill final day of Rallye Deutschland, the tenth round of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), with Hayden Paddon the highest placed of the team’s three crews, down in eighth place overall.

The run of misfortune continued on Saturday morning when Thierry Neuville was forced to retire from third place on the opening stage of the day (SS9, Arena Panzerplatte). The Belgian sustained rear suspension damage to his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC while negotiating a cut in the stage, bringing his rally to an abrupt halt.

Saturday’s schedule continued onto the monster 41.97km Panzerplatte, a demanding tarmac surface stage lined with the notorious Hinkelstein rocks, and set against Baumholder’s military backdrop. Paddon, who had already dropped time on Friday due a gradual loss of tyre pressure in SS4, picked up another puncture in his first run through the Panzerplatte test.

A brighter afternoon

Both Paddon and Sordo enjoyed a slightly more positive afternoon, with two runs through the short Arena stage followed by Panzerplatte II and a repeat of the 14.78km Freisen and 12.28km Römerstrasse loop.

For Hyundai Motorsport, in its home rally, it was another disappointing day overall, but with some positive signs of pace at times.

The team is determined to bounce back from this recent poor spell and reassert itself in the championship battle. Sunday’s target will be to salvage as many points as possible from a tough weekend.

Crew Notes: Paddon/Marshall (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Paddon and co-driver Seb Marshall wanted to come out fighting on Saturday after a slow start to the second tarmac rally of the season. Despite a puncture in SS10, the crew demonstrated more speed and confidence from inside the #4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, claiming two top-three stage times before lunchtime service.

Paddon said: “Our day didn’t start in the best manner with another puncture in the first run through Panzerplatte. We had to stop to change the tyre but overall our speed today has been better with some top-three stage times in the morning loop. Conditions, generally, were easier which afforded me more confidence, especially with our better road position. In the afternoon, conditions in the second run through Panzerplatte were some of the best I’ve ever driven, and it was pretty enjoyable. We are still here, holding eighth place, and will do all we can on the final day to secure as many points as we can for the team.”

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

In his 150th WRC event, Sordo, along with co-driver Martí, was desperate to put a torrid Friday behind him. A more consistent day of rallying saw him pick up a trio of stage wins in the afternoon loop, but the time loss from the opening day still leaves him languishing down the classification.

Sordo said: “We are naturally disappointed with how our Friday went, but we were determined to put that behind us and do better today. It was definitely an improvement in terms of the feeling in the car and our performance on the whole, even if we were struggling with understeer in the afternoon. We probably need to look more closely at the set-up for Sunday’s stages. We have pushed hard today, but there is more speed to find.”

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

Starting the day third on the classification, Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul were hoping to mount a challenge for the podium but it was to prove a short-lived ambition. The crew broke the suspension of their Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC on the opening stage, and will restart under Rally 2 on Sunday morning.

Neuville said: “To say that our retirement is a disappointment would be an understatement. We really wanted to get a good result this weekend, not only for our own championship efforts, but also for everyone in the team in our home event. In SS9, we went into a cut in the corner, hooked it with our left-rear wheel and damaged a suspension part. We weren’t able to fix it, so had no choice but to stop. The team has worked very hard, as always, to get the car ready for tomorrow, when we will give a big push to salvage some Power Stage points. Sure, it is a blow for the championship but anything can happen and I certainly don’t feel like it’s over yet. I am still confident we can do it.”

Keeping spirits up

Hyundai Motorsport is keen to push through its recent period of disappointment, and to salvage some points from a tough home rally.

Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “We have to admit that things have not gone to plan this weekend. We haven’t been performing as we expected to, nor at the level we know we can. In such situations, it is important to react strongly and quickly. There is not much we can do now to score big points here in Germany, so we have to focus on minimising the loss to our rivals. It will be important to keep calm on tomorrow’s stages and get all three crews to the finish. Thierry will be pushing for driver points in the Power Stage, which is understandable, while Hayden and Dani will want to finish our team’s home rally strongly. We will all keep persevering; it’s not in our nature to give up without a fight! ”

Sunday’s itinerary at a glance

Four stages remain on the itinerary for Rallye Deutschland, two runs through the 13.02km Losheim am See and 12.95km St. Wendeler Land.

A total distance of 51.94km is left to cover with the second run through St. Wendeler Land acting as the Power Stage, offering drivers an extra chance for championship points, which could prove crucial at the end of the season.

Classification after Day Two

1 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Ford Fiesta WRC 2:31:32.2
2 A. Mikkelsen A. Jaeger Citroën C3 WRC +21.4
3 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Ford Fiesta WRC +29.6
4 E. Evans D. Barritt Ford Fiesta WRC +1:48.3
5 J. Hänninen K. Lindström Toyota Yaris WRC +1:52.5
6 C. Breen S. Martin Citroën C3 WRC +2:06.7
7 J.M. Latvala M. Anttila Toyota Yaris WRC +4:04.9
8 H. Paddon S. Marshall Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +4:31.3

Press release Hyundai Motorsport


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