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WRC – Steady start for Hyundai Motorsport in Wales Rally GB

Hyundai Motorsport has made a tentative start to the penultimate round of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Wales Rally GB, with all four of the team’s cars inside the top ten.

Three-times rally winner this season, Thierry Neuville moved up into fourth place overall after taking a stage win on the day’s final test, Hafren, 37.1s from rally leader and home hero, Elfyn Evans. The Belgian had incurred a ten-second penalty on Thursday evening’s super special stage, Visit Conwy Tir Prince, after the car would not start ahead of the stage, putting him on the back foot from the outset of the rally.

Andreas Mikkelsen, in his second WRC event with Hyundai Motorsport, heads a trio of Hyundai i20 Coupe WRCs in seventh place overall ahead of Dani Sordo in eighth and Hayden Paddon in ninth.

Wales Rally GB’s opening day of action has covered a repeated loop of three stages – Myherin 20.28km, Sweet Lamb 4.24km and Hafren 35.14km. Teams were not afforded the luxury of a midday service with a remote tyre fitting zone in Newtown acting as the only respite for crews. A total distance of 119km run in dry conditions through the muddy Welsh forest offered a tough opening day with plenty of action still to run.

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

Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul used Friday to battle back from a ten second penalty handed to them on Thursday ahead of the super special stage. Early struggles with the car in the morning loop improved and the Belgian crew ended the day with a stage win – moving up to fourth overall

Neuville said: “We have made improvements during the day and can be satisfied with where we are considering our time penalty from Thursday. The pace is there and we would have liked to be fighting at the top but that put us behind before we’d even really started. I struggled with the settings of the car on the first stage this morning, stalling the engine after running wide and losing some seconds. We changed the differential settings midway through the loop and found some improvements, which have allowed us to move up. Finishing the day with a stage win is encouraging and gives us the motivation we need to keep pushing on Saturday.”

Crew Notes: Mikkelsen / Jæger (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

In their second WRC event with Hyundai Motorsport, Mikkelsen and his co-driver Anders Jæger have made a steady start despite their low road position. Finishing the first full day in seventh overall, and within reach of those immediately in front, the crew will be looking to adapt to the tricky Welsh conditions as the weekend progresses.

Mikkelsen said: “It is always a pleasure to come back to Wales. I started my career here and it’s fun to be driving this year with Hyundai Motorsport. Although the weather conditions have been fine today, the stages are still incredibly slippery and that has made things quite difficult. From our road position, there hasn’t been much more we could do today. We are still learning about the car in these gravel conditions, and doing all we can to adapt and learn. That is our objective also for the rest of the weekend, and we hope to make up a few more positions on the way, as well.”

Crew Notes: Sordo/Martí (#16 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

With no lunchtime service, the Spanish crew of Sordo and Marc Martí were focused on making it safely through the first day in the Welsh forest. After a disappointing home event in Spain, the crew want to showcase their true potential this weekend; they hold eighth place overall after seven stages.

Sordo said: “The stages this morning were a lot more slippery than I anticipated which I wasn’t expecting. The grip in SS4 (Hafren) was better, so we hoped to push more in the repeat loop, after the remote tyre fitting zone. Unfortunately, the grip changed again in the afternoon, which prevented us from doing much more. The stages were really fast at times, and I remain hopeful that we can make up some ground over the next two days.”

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

Paddon and co-driver Sebastian Marshall return to WRC action this weekend aiming to recapture the competitive form that saw them finish on the podium in Poland earlier this season. Knowing that the opening day of action in Wales is always subject to tricky conditions, the crew worked on finding confidence in their Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC.

Paddon said: “Wales Rally GB is a great rally, but it has certain particularities that you need to deliver against in order to be quick. First, you need absolutely bags of confidence and to be completely comfortable in the car. We always seem to struggle with understeer on the opening day, so we were mentally prepared for that, but it held us back today. The conditions were tricky, as you’d expect in Wales, but I’d almost have preferred it to be raining. We changed the settings for the afternoon loop but the conditions changed as well, so it’s a bit of a moving target. Tomorrow is, of course, another day and I hope we can enjoy it a bit more.”

Four in the fight

For the first time this season, Hyundai Motorsport is fielding four cars into a WRC event, adding to the workload of the team’s engineers and mechanics. The team wants to use this rally and the season finale in Australia to understand more about the performance of its Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC on gravel in order to prepare diligently for the 2018 season.

Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “Running four cars means we have extra workload to manage this weekend. The team has worked incredibly hard to allow us to run four crews in Wales, and we now need to use this to our benefit. The conditions have been typical of Wales – unpredictable, slippery and evolving. It is precisely what makes the rally as enjoyable. All four of our crews have faced some challenges with the car settings today, which we have worked on throughout the day. Thierry showed the improvement made by claiming a stage win in the second run through Hafren, which will set him up well for Saturday. Andreas, Dani and Hayden are all inside the top-ten, and will be trying to find more pace and performance as this penultimate round of the 2017 Championship unfolds. All the lessons we are learning this weekend will serve us well for 2018.”

Saturday’s itinerary

The second full day of Wales Rally GB is made up of nine stages, including the short Cholmondeley Castle test near Chester, England, in the late afternoon. The remaining four stages, run twice, are all located in the north east of Wales to make up a total competitive distance of 142.38km. Aberhirnant, at 13.91km long, is the opening test at 07:55 local time, followed by the 17.91km Dyfant. This pair will be held as night stages at 18:55 and 19:47 respectively to bookend the itinerary. Gatheiniog and Dyfi take place in the middle of the day with the 12.61km Gatheiniog 2 at 12:08, broadcast live.

Classification after Day One

1 E. Evans D. Barritt Ford Fiesta WRC 1:09:20.9
2 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Ford Fiesta WRC +24.6
3 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Ford Fiesta WRC +26.8
4 T. Neuville N. Gilsoul Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +37.1
5 J. M. Latvala M. Anttila Toyota Yaris WRC +41.9
6 K. Meeke P. Nagle Citroën C3 WRC +42.0
7 A. Mikkelsen A. Jæger Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +52.0
8 D. Sordo M. Martí Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +1:13.9
9 H. Paddon S. Marshall Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +1:22.9
10 J. Hänninen K. Lindström Toyota Yaris WRC +1:43.5

Press release Hyundai Motorsport


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