Hyundai Motorsport has demonstrated the performance potential of its i20 Coupe WRC on the challenging gravel stages of Rally México despite frustratingly seeing two of its crews retire from front-running positions on Friday.
Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Sordo mounted impressive assaults on the rally lead during the first complete day of action for the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), but were cruelly forced to retire their Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC cars.
Mikkelsen and co-driver Anders Jæger-Amland secured two stage wins during Friday’s morning loop, including a confident run through the 31.57km El Chocolate stage, to lead the rally by 1.6-seconds heading into lunchtime service. Unfortunately, the Norwegians were forced to stop on the opening stage of the afternoon loop after hitting a stone that caused a puncture and irreparable suspension damage.
Sordo and Carlos del Barrio, in their first WRC event of the season, were on the pace throughout the day, claiming top-two times in each stage until their sudden retirement – due to an electrical issue – before the afternoon’s run through Las Minas (SS7 10.72km).
There was drama also for Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul, who picked up a slow puncture on the opening stage of Friday (El Chocolate) that put them on the back foot. The Belgian persevered from second on the road order to conclude the day in sixth place overall.
Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (#11 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
- Second on the road on the opening day of gravel stages at Rally México
- Slow puncture in SS2 – El Chocolate – set the tone for a tough day
Neuville said: “The puncture this morning ended any real hopes we had of a positive weekend here in México. We could not hide our disappointment from the situation but still did all we could to catch up some places as the day progressed. About 5 or 6km into the stage we nearly went off trying to avoid some big stones and we hit one, which caused the puncture. There was nothing we could do. On these gravel stages, road position plays an important role and unfortunately we aren’t going to benefit much as this weekend progresses. Of course, despite the huge frustration, we will never give up.”
Crew Notes: Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger-Amland (#89 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
- Stage wins in El Chocolate and Street Stage León put the Norwegians in the rally lead
- Retirement in SS5 (El Chocolate 2) spoiled a very strong day for the crew
Mikkelsen said: “We had a positive morning, but the afternoon could not have been a starker turnaround in fortunes. We wanted to get a good start, and we did just that. We knew that the El Chocolate stage would play an important role; the longest stage of the day and one that everyone knows well. Still, it changes a bit each year but we put a lot of effort into getting it right – and we were rewarded with a stage win in the morning loop. We were in the rally lead, and fighting hard, but in the repeat of El Chocolate I hit a stone. We got a puncture so we changed the tyre but we could only continue for 10km before the suspension broke due to the impact with the rock, and in the end we were forced to stop.” Crew Notes: Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
- Consistently inside the top-two stage times on Friday in first WRC event of 2019
- Forced to stop on road section after SS6 (Ortega) with electrical issues
Sordo said: “It has been a welcome return to the WRC for myself and Carlos. We hoped to fight near the front from the start, and we were able to do that for much of the day. I felt immediately comfortable in the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC and we set some very strong stage times. Running in second overall, just four seconds from the lead, we picked up an electrical issue after the Ortega stage. We had to stop on the road section to try and fix the problem but there was no chance. We had the genuine opportunity for a strong podium result here – and who knows what else – but that’s no longer possible, which is a really a shame for the whole team.”
Team Director Andrea Adamo: “What can I say? We have had worse days, but we’ve certainly had better. We don’t expect to lose two cars on the opening day, let alone while fighting for the lead of the rally. We have to remain calm and just focus on what we can salvage from this weekend of missed opportunities.”
Saturday at a glance
- Nine stages will be contested on Saturday over a competitive distance of 138.37km – the longest day total of the weekend.
- Two long and demanding stages open the loop, the 25.90km Guanajuatito and 32.27km Otates tests. A shorter but no less challenging run through the 8.13km El Brinco stage, complete with its exhilarating jump, concludes the morning loop.
- All three stages will be repeated in the afternoon, followed by three fan spectacles with two more attempts at the V-Power Shell Stage (2.33km) and the Street Stage León (1.11km).
Classification after Day One
|1||S. Ogier||J. Ingrassia||Citroën C3 WRC||1:18:33.8|
|2||E. Evans||S. Martin||Ford Fiesta WRC||+14.8|
|3||K. Meeke||S. Marshall||Toyota Yaris WRC||+21.1|
|4||O. Tänak||M. Järveoja||Toyota Yaris WRC||+37.1|
|5||E. Lappi||J. Ferm||Citroën C3 WRC||+39.1|
|6||T. Neuville||N. Gilsoul||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||+1:00.7|
Press release Hyundai Motorsport]]>