Hyundai Motorsport moves into podium contention in Wales Rally GB

Hyundai Motorsport is firmly in the fight for the podium in Wales Rally GB, the penultimate round of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship
Thierry Neuville holds third place at the end of Saturday’s nine stages, just 0.5-seconds from Sébastien Ogier, adding another stage win to his tally in SS13 (Dyfi)
Andreas Mikkelsen has moved up to fifth overall, just ten seconds from second place, with Hayden Paddon and Dani Sordo also holding top-ten positions.

Wales Rally GB Day Two
28 October 2017

Deeside, Great Britain

October 28, 2017 – Hyundai Motorsport has mounted a stronger challenge on the middle day of this weekend’s Wales Rally GB, consistently setting top-three stage times and positioning itself as a serious podium contender.

Saturday’s itinerary saw teams tackle the longest day of the weekend, both in terms of total distance – 142.38km – as well as duration. The opening stage commenced at 7.55am local time, while the final test concluded over twelve hours later.

Two runs through Aberhirnant, Dyfnant, Gartheiniog and Dyfi were split up with a short 1.80km test at Cholmondeley Castle in mid-afternoon. Night-time conditions were made even more complicated with the addition of heavy fog in the penultimate stage – Aberhirnant 2.

Belgian duo Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul were quick out of the blocks on Saturday morning, as they sought to overhaul a time deficit from the opening day of action. The pair claimed two more stage wins on Saturday – in SS13 (Dyfi 2) and SS14 (Cholmondeley Castle) – to hold second position overall. However, hitting the worst of the evening fog, they dropped back to third overall just 0.5s behind Sébastien Ogier.

Andreas Mikkelsen claimed five top-three stage times on Saturday as he moved into the top-five overall in just his second WRC event with Hyundai Motorsport. Hayden Paddon scored a top-two stage time in the foggy Aberhirnant run, and holds eighth overall, two places ahead of Dani Sordo in tenth.

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

Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul were among the standout performers on Saturday, as they moved up from fourth to second overall. Unfortunately, the Belgian crew were hampered by the evening fog which prevented them from extending their hold on second place. Instead, they lost some ground but remain firmly in the podium hunt, only 0.5-seconds from Ogier.

Neuville said: “Overall, it was a better day than Friday in terms of the driving, more consistent and we were able to make up a good chunk of time, although I am disappointed with the way our day has ended. We probably had the worst of the fog and honestly could not have gone any faster. We tried to push but it was impossible in those conditions. I expected poor conditions in the evening, but nothing like we experienced. I gave it all I had in the final stage but all our hard work was undone by the weather conditions.”

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

Mikkelsen and his co-driver Anders Jæger enjoyed a consistent Saturday with a string of top-three times. The Norwegian crew’s progress was hindered by the evening conditions as the positioning of their headlights affected their line of sight.

Mikkelsen said: “On the whole, we have had a good day. The daylight stages were particularly positive. We benefitted from a better starting position today so we wanted to capitalise on that and regain some time. We were able to achieve that and were not far off the lead times. The car set-up was amazing. We knew the evening stages would be tough, with the fog, but we had nothing to lose so I drove as quick as I could. We set our light pods too high in the penultimate stage of the evening, and couldn’t see anything. We tried to modify those but with no fog in the final stage they were too low and visibility was worse. Still, there are a lot of good things to take from today’s running.”

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

Paddon and co-driver Seb Marshall had a mixed day with some positive moments offset by a few issues. A front-left puncture in SS9 (Dyfnant) and hydraulic issues in SS13 (Dyfi) lost them time, but a strong evening performance kept them inside the top-eight in their first WRC event since August.

Paddon said: “There have been some positives and some problems today. On the positive side, the car has felt much better today and I have felt more confident. However, we have also encountered some trouble, which has set us back. We had a puncture at the start of the second stage and then hydraulic issues on the second run through Dyfi – the longest stage of the day. We had no gearbox or differentials for the entire stage, and it was an absolute handful if I’m honest. I was looking forward to the evening stages and felt that we got more out of ourselves. It’s the same conditions for everyone, but I am able to trust Seb implicitly on the pace notes, so we could push that bit more.”

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

A tough day for Sordo and co-driver Marc Martí saw them drop to tenth overall. Despite finishing second in the short Cholmondeley Castle stage, it was a day of disappointment for the Spanish crew.

Sordo said: “There is nothing I can say. It has been a difficult day, and it ended with a poor stage where we lost a lot of time. The car has performed well, mostly, but we haven’t been able to make progress. I was struggling with the traction and grip this morning and the suspension was too soft for my preference. This rally is very special and unique, but so far I haven’t been able to dial into it fully. I am definitely hoping to turn things around on the final day.”

Podium in sight

Hyundai Motorsport is determined to return to the podium for the first time since Rally Poland, and to secure a second consecutive top-three finish in Wales Rally GB. Despite a few setbacks on Saturday, the team is hopeful of improving on its current top-five positions.

Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “This evening’s fog really made life difficult for the crews, but it seems that Thierry in particular got caught out in the conditions. We have to look past this slight frustration because there is nothing we can do about the elements. He had enjoyed a strong day up to that point, moving up to second and establishing himself clearly as best of the rest after the local star Elfyn, who is doing a magnificent job. Andreas, too, has done well today. Looking at his performance, it’s easy to forget it is only his second rally with our team. Sunday’s five stages will offer yet more challenges for all four of our crews, but I think we are in a strong position to fight for the podium, possibly with more than one crew. That’s what I’d love to see by Sunday lunchtime. ”

Sunday’s itinerary

The 10.41km Alwen and 6.43km Brenig stages will both be run twice on Sunday, the latter as the Power Stage.

Sandwiched in between the loops will be the 7.49km Gwydir test, bringing the total distance for the final day to 41.17km.

Overall Classification after Day Two

1-E. Evans D. Barritt Ford Fiesta WRC 2:32:39.2
2-S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Ford Fiesta WRC +53.1
3-T. Neuville N. Gilsoul Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +53.6
4-J. M. Latvala M. Anttila Toyota Yaris WRC +57.7
5-A. Mikkelsen A. Jæger Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +1:03.6
6-O. Tänak M. Järveoja Ford Fiesta WRC +1:06.1
7-K. Meeke P. Nagle Citroën C3 WRC +1:27.6
8-H. Paddon S. Marshall Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +2:04.0
9-E. Lappi J. Fern Toyota Yaris WRC +2:41.0
10-D. Sordo M. Martí Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +3:35.8
















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