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WRC – Neuville holds provisional podium in Hyundai Motorsport’s home rally

06c8be1c-7f56-4222-bddb-0084d2bedcafHyundai Motorsport holds a provisional podium position after a difficult start to its home event, Rallye Deutschland, the tenth round of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).

The opening day of action for the season’s second tarmac rally was held in intermittent rainy conditions that made surfaces slippery and tyre selection a lottery for all crews.

A total of seven stages were held today, following the opening Super Special in Saarbrücken on Thursday evening, run over a distance of 108.51km. The lush vineyards and Mosel backdrop offered their usual stunning scenery but Hyundai Motorsport’s three crews struggled to paint a representative picture on home soil.

Positioned for a podium

As championship leader, Thierry Neuville was first on the road for Friday’s stages. The Belgian completed the day in third place overall, less than thirty seconds from leader Ott Tanak and just 2.4s ahead of his nearest title rival Sébastien Ogier.

It was a frustrating start for Hayden Paddon and Dani Sordo in the #4 and #6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC cars respectively. Paddon suffered a puncture in SS4 (Grafschaft 18.35km), leaving him down in ninth place overall.

Sordo, meanwhile, led the rally at the conclusion of the day’s opening Super Special (Wadern-Weiskirchen 9.27km), but went off the road, unharmed, towards the start of SS4. He will re-join under Rally 2 for Saturday, the longest individual day of the rally.

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

All eyes were on Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul as they opened proceedings for the first time as WRC Championship leaders. Despite showing glimpses of promise throughout the day, the crew lost some time in the morning loop after a brief off into the vineyards in SS3 (Mittelmosel 22km). Still, they were able to move into the podium positions by the end of the day, to hold a slender advantage over his title rival Ogier.

Neuville said: “I am pleased to have made it through the day. It’s been tough from start to finish. Tyre choice has really dictated our performance, so it is a relief that we are in a provisional podium position in third place. We made a little mistake on the opening loop, with a brief trip off the road, but thankfully we didn’t lose a huge amount. In these conditions, being first on the road wasn’t too much of a handicap but there were still plenty of surprises in the stages. The afternoon was much the same, and in the final stage of the day we went wide and were really lucky to avoid something far worse. We are still in the game but we’ll definitely be looking for a better run on Saturday.”

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

Trying to ease into the rally on the opening day, Paddon and co-driver Seb Marshall were unable to get into a rhythm. A puncture on SS4 added misfortune to their struggles but they will be aiming for a better Saturday as they look to make up ground inside the top-ten.

Paddon said: “We entered this rally knowing it was going to be one the hardest of the season for us, but still it was tougher than we probably expected. The conditions were really horrible at times, and there was no clear direction on tyre choice. We had a slow puncture in SS4 which lost us a lot of time, but even without that we were struggling for a rhythm. We now need to refocus on our aim of getting to the end of the rally and to score as many points as we can for the team.”

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

Sordo and co-driver Martí got their Rallye Deutschland off to a flying start with a stage win in SS2, which saw them take the lead of a rally for the first time this season. Unfortunately, just two stages later, the Spaniards were forced to retire after going off road, deep into the trees, during SS4. They will return under Rally 2 for Saturday’s stages.

Sordo said: “After some tough rallies, we were really hoping to demonstrate our speed and performance on the German tarmac this weekend. Things started well this morning with a stage win in SS2, but the conditions were tricky for everyone. Tyre selection was not straightforward, so we opted for a compromise, running with a mixed hard and soft combination. In hindsight, it was not the best choice because we could not get confidence from the car. It was this that contributed to our incident in SS4. We had some difficulties under braking and went down a bank, quite a long way into the trees; our day was over. Thankfully we were fine and the mechanics were able to fix the car, so we will be back on Saturday.”

Home improvements

With its factory in Alzenau near Frankfurt, Rallye Deutschland is a home event for Hyundai Motorsport. Having won the event with a 1-2 in 2014, and scoring a double podium last season, the team will be hoping for a smoother Saturday.

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “A difficult day for us, hampered by the weather and the tricky stages. We never really found the right tyre choice for the conditions, during either of the two loops. On reflection, we should have run softer compounds, but we have battled through to the end of the day with Thierry moving up into the podium positions on the last stage. Hayden knew it would be a demanding rally, and so it has been. The target for him is to bring the car back and to fight for some important manufacturer points. Dani ran mixed compound tyres on the morning loop, and had some difficulties in braking. Unfortunately, he lost the front of the car in SS4 going off the road and was out for the day. He’ll be back for tomorrow’s equally challenging stages, but we all hope for a less chaotic day as we aim for a solid home result!” 

Saturday’s itinerary at a glance

Nine stages will make up Saturday’s schedule for Rallye Deutschland, run over a distance of 146.67km.

The longest day of the weekend in terms of stage length will start with the first Super Special Stage Arena Panzerplatte before the monster Panzerplatte itself, at 41.97km the biggest stage of the rally.

Two further runs through the Arena stage will be sandwiched by a loop of the 14.78km Freisen and 12.28km Römerstrasse tests, run twice.

Classification after Day One

1 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Ford Fiesta WRC 1:07:23.0
2 A. Mikkelsen A. Jaeger Citroën C3 WRC +5.7
3 T. Neuville N. Gilsoul Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +28.2
4 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Ford Fiesta WRC +30.6
5 E. Evans D. Barritt Ford Fiesta WRC +52.1
6 J. Hänninen K. Lindström Toyota Yaris WRC +1:14.7
7 C. Breen S. Martin Citroën C3 WRC +1:24.5
8 J.M. Latvala M. Anttila Toyota Yaris WRC +1:54.7
9 H. Paddon S. Marshall Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +2:29.5

Press release Hyundai Motorsport


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