FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP (WRC 2016): HYUNDAI MOTORSPORT IN PODIUM HUNT AFTER FIRST FULL DAY OF ACTION IN RALLY MEXICO
WRC A FULL 2016
Hyundai Motorsport in podium hunt after first full day of action in Rally Mexico.
A third consecutive podium remains in sight for Hyundai Motorsport after a day of mixed fortunes for the team in Mexico
Dani Sordo holds third place at the end of the second day of Mexican stages while Hayden Paddon is firmly in the hunt for a top-five finish
Thierry Neuville will be hoping to mount a Saturday comeback after being forced to retire following an off in SS4 (El Chocolate) as the Belgian re-joins under Rally 2 regulations.
March 4, 2016 – Hyundai Motorsport has begun its fight for a third consecutive WRC podium finish with an encouraging performance in Rally Mexico, the third round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).
The team enjoyed a positive opening evening to this weekend’s rally on Thursday with all three crews occupying top-six positions, as well as Thierry Neuville kick-starting the event with a stage win in SS1.
The first complete day of action today delivered mixed fortunes for the team with Dani Sordo mounting an early podium charge in third place and Hayden Paddon also finishing the day inside the top-five. However, Neuville’s strong start melted away in the opening El Chocolate stage as he was forced to retire with suspension damage.
Sordo (#4 New Generation i20 WRC), driving for the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team this weekend, put in an impressive run in the long 54km opening stage on Friday (SS4 El Chocolate), finishing second and helping him to cement third place overall, a position he retains by a comfortable margin heading into the penultimate day.
Sordo said: “We can be very happy to hold a provisional podium position after this first full day. It wasn’t the most straightforward day and there is still a long way to go, but it’s not been a bad start. We really enjoyed the ceremonial start and the first stages yesterday in front of an impressive crowd but today was all about the long El Chocolate stage. We had a decent opening stage, even if we lost a bit of time, but we were carrying two spare soft tyres in the boot, which ultimately we didn’t need. That caused the rear of the car to move around a bit too much. Still, it wasn’t too bad. The repeat stage was very slippery and I found it very difficult but we made some improvements in the repeat of Las Minas. We have a bit of a buffer to Mikkelsen behind us but we have two very demanding days to rally so it’s too early to get excited. I’m looking forward to another long day tomorrow.”
Paddon (#20 New Generation i20 WRC) is representing the Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team in Mexico and has adopted a sensible approach on the first opening day of the rally. The Kiwi, fresh from his podium finish in Sweden, aims to retain his current top-five position over the next two days.
Paddon commented: “We didn’t have the best of mornings, making the wrong tyre choice which wasn’t the cleverest decision on my part. We expected conditions to be best suited to the hard compound but it didn’t turn out as we thought. We had a very slight contact with a wall in SS5 (Las Minas), which usually you would get away with but we bent the suspension. We made it through and thankfully the afternoon went better. The grip was improved and the tyre choice was easier. I’m trying to do a sensible rally and our aim is to keep hold of this top-five position, which I’d see as a very good result here this weekend. There’s still a lot of tough stages still to run, and another long day ahead of us tomorrow.”
Neuville (#3 New Generation i20 WRC) endured a torrid start to the first full day of action in Mexico. The Belgian had started Friday in second overall after a clean run on Thursday – including a stage win in SS1 – but he was forced to retire 13km from the end of SS4 – the gruelling 54.21km El Chocolate stage – after losing the car on a crest, spinning and causing damage to the front-left suspension. He will resume under Rally 2 tomorrow.
Neuville commented: “I’m very disappointed. It was certainly not the day we wanted or expected to have after the positive way we started this rally yesterday. We made a good tyre choice and were setting encouraging split times in El Chocolate (SS4), which makes it even more frustrating. We lost the car over a crest and spun, causing damage to the front-left suspension – game over for the day. Thursday evening’s opening stages were positive and helped us build confidence, something we will now look to rebuild tomorrow. It’s a long, tough rally and anything can happen – as we have seen today – so we’ll keep working hard to see what we can salvage despite the time penalties we will incur for re-starting under Rally 2.”
For Hyundai Motorsport, Rally Mexico brings back happy memories of the team’s maiden WRC podium in 2014. Just two years later and the team is targeting a third top-three in a row after a fine third place in Monte-Carlo and second place at the most recent event in Sweden.
Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “It has been something of a typically unpredictable start to Rally Mexico, an event we love and fear in equal measure. The stages we face here represent a completely different challenge to those in Monte and Sweden so it’s a step into new terrain for our New Generation i20 WRC. All three drivers had a trouble-free start on Thursday evening with Thierry taking a stage win in front of the many fans that have turned out to support WRC once again in Mexico. Today has seen the famous and challenging El Chocolate, which unfortunately caught Thierry out. He damaged the suspension on his car after a spin but we are pleased to have him re-join the rally tomorrow. Dani has had a strong start and is firmly in a podium position. We can’t get carried away because we have some really tough stages ahead of us on Saturday – as well as the monster 80km stage on Sunday, which can transform the event. Hayden, too, is doing well inside the top-five, a position he will aim to keep hold of. So far, it’s been a bit mixed and I hope we’ll be able to see more performance from the car and drivers tomorrow.”
There will be nine stages held on Saturday starting with a loop of Ibarrilla (30.38km), Otates (42.62km), El Brinco (7.15km) followed by the live Agua Zarca (16.47km) stage after lunch. Otates and El Brinco will be run a second time in the afternoon and followed by two Super Specials and a final Street Stage. All in all, over 150km of challenges ready to test the greatest drivers in the WRC!
Overall Classification after Day One
1-J. M. Latvala / M. Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 1:48:00.0
2-S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +32.1
3-D. Sordo / M. Martí (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +1:15.6
4-A. Mikkelsen / A. Jaeger (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +1:46.7
5-H. Paddon / J. Kennard (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +2:20.8
6-M. Østberg / O. Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:35.6
7-O. Tanak / R. Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:53.8
8-M. Prokop / J. Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:56.3
9-L. Bertelli / S. Scattolin (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +5:11.3
10-T. Suninen / M. Markkula (Škoda Fabia R5) +5:43.7
About Hyundai Motorsport GmbH
Established on 19 December 2012, Hyundai Motorsport GmbH is responsible for Hyundai’s global motorsport activities and primarily for its World Rally Championship programme. Based in Alzenau on the outskirts of Frankfurt in Germany, the company embarked on its debut season in the FIA World Rally Championship in 2014 with a bespoke team of skilled staff and a brand new car, the Hyundai i20 WRC. The team made a strong impression in its first year claiming podium results in Mexico and Poland, as well as a memorable 1-2 in Germany. In its second season, the team was involved in a closely fought battle for second place in the Manufacturers’ Championship, adding more podiums and stage wins to its tally. For its third season in WRC, Hyundai Motorsport is entering a brand new car, the New Generation i20 WRC, which made its rally debut in Monte Carlo in January 2016.
Further information about Hyundai Motorsport is available at: http://motorsport.hyundai.com
About Hyundai Motor Company
Established in 1967, Hyundai Motor Company is committed to becoming a lifetime partner in automobiles and beyond. The company, which leads the Hyundai Motor Group, an innovative business structure capable of circulating resources from molten iron to finished cars, offers top-quality best-sellers such as Elantra, Sonata and Genesis. Hyundai Motor has eight manufacturing bases and seven design & technical centers worldwide and in 2015, sold 4.96 million vehicles globally. With more than 100,000 employees worldwide, Hyundai Motor continues to enhance its product line-up with localized models and strives to strengthen its leadership in clean technology, starting with the world’s first mass-produced hydrogen-powered vehicle, ix35 Fuel Cell.
Nicoletta Russo / Thomas Villette
Media Hyundai Shell World Rally Team
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