Hayden Paddon is determined that Corsica will be the real start of...

Hayden Paddon is determined that Corsica will be the real start of his 2017 season

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Fresh from securing its first podium finish of the season at Rally Mexico, Hyundai Motorsport is ready to take to the tarmac at next week’s Tour de Corse (6-9 April). The event is the fourth round of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).

The Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC already proved to be a strong and versatile challenger in this competitive WRC season. The team has amassed 20 stage wins and 16 Power Stage points in the opening three rounds – across all driver crews.

Corsica will offer Hyundai Motorsport an opportunity to build on its recent podium at a venue where the team finished second just six months ago. The trio of Hayden Paddon/John Kennard, Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul and Dani Sordo/Marc Martí will all be aiming to repeat that feat – and hopefully go one better in this year’s event.

Team Principal Michel Nandan said:

“We can’t be completely satisfied with the results from the first three rallies of the season. But we have definitely shown promise. We hope our podium in Mexico will unlock the full potential from the i20 Coupe WRC and our crews. This year’s WRC is incredibly close with three different manufacturers winning in the opening rounds. I hope it’s our turn now! Corsica will present its own tough challenges, of course. So we have to keep focused on the job in hand and remain confident in our own abilities.”

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After a challenging start to their 2017 WRC campaign, the Kiwi partnership of Hayden Paddon and John Kennard will be targeting a good result in Corsica

As part of his preparation for the event, Paddon took part in Rallye Sanremo, in which he secured a hard-fought second place.

Paddon said: “I am determined that Corsica will be the real start of my 2017 season. I feel confident in myself. And I’ve been working hard to prepare for the first WRC tarmac event of the year. For me Rallye Sanremo has been a really enjoyable event. The stages have a great character, with a lot of challenging sections where there is not a lot of room for mistakes. In some places the roads are similar to Corsica. So to have finished with such a strong performance is the best preparation for the WRC in France next weekend.”

“The New Generation i20 R5 has been great all weekend – it’s a very nice car to drive. Because it has slightly less power than the WRC car I was able to focus more my driving lines and style, which has improved during this event. As I got used to the feel of the grip levels on the tarmac we were able to make handling adjustments. I could really feel them when we got to the stages. Arriving here with little previous knowledge of the roads we knew it was going to be tough to compare ourselves with the local crews. But we showed we could compete with them by taking an important stage win away from them.”

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Belgians Thierry Neuville and Gilsoul claimed second at last year’s Tour de Corse and have rally-winning form on the island

Having scored their first podium of 2017 in Mexico, they will be hoping to return to the front as the WRC moves back onto tarmac.

Neuville commented: “Tour de Corse is a famous and historic rally. It’s also an event that Nicolas and I have won back in 2011 – when it was part of the IRC – so we remember what it is like to go there and perform. I thought we did well there last year especially, finishing second. The stages were just lovely, so we are looking forward to getting back there. Mexico was a really important result for us after the competitive but frustrating first rounds of the season. We want to build on that podium – and Corsica is a great place to do just that.”

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Spaniards Sordo and Martí are the highest placed Hyundai Motorsport crew in the standings after a solid start to their 2017 season

Stage wins in each round mean they can head onto Corsica’s tarmac terrain in confident mood. Sordo also claimed a victory at the event in 2012, when it was an IRC round, so he will be hoping to bring some of that form to next week’s rally.

Sordo said: “Corsica is our first experience of a proper tarmac rally this season. The setting of the rally is one of the most spectacular on the calendar, with the route taking us through the mountains and the forests- it really is a great event to take part in. Our performances so far this year have been pretty consistent but now is the time to step up our game – and bring ourselves even closer to the front.”

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