Hyundai Motorsport claimed its second double podium of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo completing Rally Portugal in second and third positions respectively.
The result fulfils Hyundai Motorsport’s pre-rally objectives in style, securing the team its first-ever Portuguese podium finish. It is the sixth time in the team’s history where it has had two crews on the podium. Hyundai continues its run of 2017 top-three finishes after third in Mexico, a 1-3 in Corsica and victory in Argentina.
All three crews registered stage wins. Hayden Paddon and Neuville notched up four apiece, while Sordo took one. It is the first rally this season where all crews achieved the feat. It also represents one of the team’s most successful rallies to date in terms of stage wins (nine in total).
Starting the final four stages Neuville and Sordo set about defending their positions. Paddon suffered technical issues on Friday and Saturday. That’s why he went about showing his true credentials with some impressive times.
Neuville could do little to reduce the gap to eventual winner Sébastien Ogier. But he finished the rally less than 16 seconds behind the reigning World Champion. The Belgian continued his unbroken run of Power Stage points finishes, taking second in the concluding Fafe stage to score a total of 22 points.
With this result, the team maintains second in the Manufacturer’s Championship on 173 points and keeps up the pressure on leaders M-Sport, who are 26 points ahead on 199. Neuville, meanwhile, moves up into second place in the Drivers’ Championship, breaking through the 100-point barrier to 106 after six rounds of the season.
Michel Nandan: “We have lacked a bit of performance compared to our nearest rivals, but we can be satisfied to take our first Portuguese podiums”
“We have achieved our objectives with two of our i20 Coupe WRC cars on the podium”, Team Principal Michel Nandan commented. “Congratulations to Thierry and Nicolas, Dani and Marc on a good job during the weekend.”
“When Sébastien Ogier starts the final day with a 16-second advantage, you know it is going to be an easy gap for him to manage. We set about securing our second and third places. The crews did that comfortably, while also putting on a nice show for the many thousands of fans out on the stages.”
“Hayden and Seb showed great pace too. It’s disappointing that we experienced two separate problems with their car over the weekend. We need to investigate more deeply. We have lacked a bit of performance compared to our nearest rivals, but we can be satisfied to take our first Portuguese podiums. Sardinia will offer another challenge but we have happy memories from last season, which we will definitely want to repeat!”
#WRC Manufacturers’ Standings
M-Sport WRT 199
? Hyundai Motorsport 173
Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 113
Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 85
— Hyundai Motorsport (@HMSGOfficial) May 21, 2017