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WRC – Thierry Neuville finished Friday’s final loop with a stage win to strengthen a provisional podium position ahead of team-mate Dani Sordo in fourth

Hyundai Motorsport has made a respectable start to Tour de Corse, the fourth round of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), with two of its crews in strong positions at the end of the opening day.

Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul are within ten seconds of the overall rally lead, having set a steady pace throughout the day. The Belgians finished Friday with a flourish, claiming a stage win in the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, to cut the deficit to rally leader Elfyn Evans to 9.8-seconds.

Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio hold fourth place on the classification in the opening tarmac round of the 2019 season, 26-seconds back. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena suffered an early setback after damaging the suspension on their car on the exit of a corner in the opening stage. Losing two minutes of time, the #19 crew had a big fight-back on their hands to reclaim eighth overall by the end of the afternoon.

Friday’s itinerary covered a repeat loop of three new stages, the 17.60km Bavella, 25.94km Valinco and 17.37km Alta-Rocca tests, all posing a new challenge for WRC crews. In dry conditions, the tight and twisty turns of the Corsican island offered plenty of drama with the majority of the rally’s running yet to come on the final two days.

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

  • Stage win for the Belgians in SS6 (Alta-Rocca 2)
  • In close battle for the rally lead, just 9.8-seconds from first place

Neuville said: “I think we have had a pretty satisfactory day today, and we’ve done a good job with the car since shakedown. The feeling has not been 100% perfect, and our pace notes were a bit too slow on the first stage, but we’ve made some good progress. To be in contention for the lead of the rally at the end of this opening day is all we could have hoped for. We are perhaps missing some grip to go ever faster, but it’s a solid base from which we can build tomorrow.”

Crew Notes: Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

  • Steady day for the Spaniards in fourth place overall
  • Encouraging opening loop with two top-three stage times

Sordo said: “It has not been a straightforward day, although we have had some positive moments. The first stages were really nice and I was able to set some encouraging and fast times. It was more difficult in the afternoon loop as the speed was not there. We have to look at the areas where we can find improvements for Saturday, which is an incredibly gruelling schedule. We have a big distance to cover tomorrow so it will be a crucial day for the rally result.”

Crew Notes: Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (#19 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

  • Suspension damage on the opening stage lost the crew two minutes of time
  • Steady improvements during the day with top-three stage time in SS6 (Alta-Rocca)

Loeb said: “Things have got increasingly better as the day has progressed, and I ended the afternoon loop feeling quite confident in the car. We lost a lot of time at the beginning of the first stage this morning. I made a small mistake and on the exit of a corner and broke something on the suspension, which we had to fix. With no lunchtime service, we had to do what we could to keep going. We changed the settings during the day and found some good improvements, which we hope to carry over into Saturday.”

Team Director Andrea Adamo: “We knew we would be somewhat limited in our possibilities coming into this event, but we were still determined to give it a good account of ourselves. Friday’s itinerary has included stages that the drivers and co-drivers have never tackled competitively before, so it’s been a real learning curve. There has also been the added complication of no lunchtime service. I would summarise by saying that our crews have done a nice job so far, and there has been some excellent teamwork on display. Thierry is in an exciting fight at the front, while Dani has shown his ability to push for the podium. Sébastien, unfortunately, lost time in the first stage but his comeback to eighth place has been good to watch. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

Saturday at a glance

  • The penultimate day of Tour de Corse sees crews move from stages in the southeast of the island to a demanding schedule in the northeast.
  • Six stages will make up Saturday’s itinerary over a distance of almost 175km – over half of the total rally length.
  • A trip of stages, Cap Corse (25.62km), Désert des Agriates (14.45km) and Castagniccia (47.18km) will be held twice with morning and afternoon loops.

Classification after Day One

1 E. Evans S. Martin Ford Fiesta WRC 1:09:39.6
2 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Toyota Yaris WRC +4.5
3 T. Neuville N. Gilsoul Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +9.8
4 D. Sordo C. del Barrio Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +26.1
5 T. Suninen M. Salminen Ford Fiesta WRC +30.9
6 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Citroën C3 WRC +36.3
7 E. Lappi J. Ferm Citroën C3 WRC +46.3
8 S. Loeb D. Elena Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +2:27.9

Press release Hyundai Motorsport


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