Hyundai Motorsport completed the second round of the 2017 World Rally Championship (WRC) with a fourth-placed finish for Dani Sordo and powerstage points for Thierry Neuville and Hayden Paddon.
The team once again missed out on an opportunity to push for the outright victory.un
Powerstage points were little (if any) consolation for Neuville after his mistake at the end of the second race day
The final blow was setting the provisional fastest time and then watching it beaten by Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala.
“We gave it everything in the final stage but we had to settle for three points instead of the five we wanted”, Thierry admitted. “It was a very close-run stage with just 1.5-seconds separating the top 3. The result overall is of course a big source of frustration. I feel disappointed for the whole team that we lost the lead of the rally for a small driving mistake. It was another issue with big consequences for the Championship. I am sure that our approach to this rally was correct, until our misfortune. However our potential is clear and we have to focus on moving forward positively.”
For Sordo the gap to the podium positions was too significant and he settled for fourth place.
Sordo said: “I have enjoyed this rally a lot, with some very fast and breath-taking stages. [On the last day] we knew our target was to take fourth place, and pick up the important points of the Championship, so we took it carefully. The Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC has been a pleasure to drive, very competitive and with good pace. We need to take the consistency from Monte Carlo and Sweden and build on this for Mexico, where I will be aiming for the podium.”
The Kiwi crew of Hayden Paddon and John Kennard used the last stages to further their understanding and feeling in the car
Throughout the rally they could not develop a rhythm. So Sunday was important for them to try some new ideas, and to build confidence.
Paddon said: “That was most certainly not the easiest of weekends but getting to the finish feels like a release of pressure”, Paddon commented. “Things just didn’t click for us 100% but we tried a few things and there are definitely things we can learn for future rallies. We gave it a bit of a push in the powerstage and finishing P7 gives us some points to kick-start our championship. I am positive about this car and the direction we are heading, so it’s a case of onwards and upwards.”
It may not have been the start to the 2017 season that Hyundai Motorsport was expecting but it takes comfort from the performance of its i20 Coupe WRC. Six more stage wins in Sweden, in addition to the seven in Monte Carlo, shows that the team is the most competitive it has ever been, even if the results don’t reflect that so far.
Team Principal Michel Nandan said:
“I am sure we will look back on these two opening rounds of the season as character-building for our team. There’s no such thing as guaranteed results so we have to work doubly hard to show what we are capable of. The pieces of the puzzle are there, we just need a turnaround in fortunes – hopefully that will start in Mexico. On behalf of everyone at Hyundai Motorsport, I would like to extend our sincerest congratulations to Toyota for an historic win this weekend. If one thing is clear after two rounds, the WRC is in great health with plenty of competition. That’s the one real positive we take away from Sweden.”
— Hyundai Motorsport (@HMSGOfficial) 12 February 2017