WRC A FULL 2016
Podium target for Hyundai Motorsport in Wales Rally GB.
Hyundai Motorsport will be looking to score its first Wales Rally GB podium in next weekend’s penultimate round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)
The team will be fielding three New Generation i20 WRC cars with Thierry Neuville in the #3, Dani Sordo in the #4 and Hayden Paddon in the #20
Hyundai Motorsport has twice finished fourth in Wales. With the team’s recent double podium results in Germany and Spain, hopes are high for a maiden GB top-three.
Wales Rally GB Preview
21 October 2016
October 21, 2016 – Hyundai Motorsport will make a return to full-gravel next weekend as it heads to Britain for Wales Rally GB, the 12th round of the 13-event 2016 FIA World Rally Championship.
After claiming a competitive double podium in Spain last weekend, the team will be aiming to extend its recent run of consecutive top-three results, which dates back to Rallye Deutschland in August.
Three New Generation i20 WRCs have been entered into the Wales GB, which will feature the Championship’s first stage in England since 1999. Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo, who starred for the team in Spain, will return for the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team in the #3 and #4 cars respectively. Hayden Paddon, who took his best-ever tarmac result at the last event with fourth, will compete in the #20 Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team entry.
The 22-stage Wales Rally GB has hosted the season finale in recent years but has moved slightly earlier on the 2016 schedule. Run over a total of 330.21 kilometres, the rally will offer teams another stern test. Friday’s itinerary comprises over half of the total distance with a staggering 178km of punishing gravel stages.
Although names like Hafren and Sweet Lamb are familiar to rally aficionados, they will be run in reverse direction this year. Saturday features stages that have not appeared on the rally since 1997. Adding to the complexity of the event, there will be no lunchtime service on any of the three days – meaning drivers will have to look after their cars with the unpredictable British weather almost certain to play a part.
All three drivers had a one-day gravel test ahead of Wales Rally GB to prepare their New Generation i20 WRC cars, but the real work starts with shakedown on Thursday, which acts as a precursor to the Ceremonial Start at Colwyn Bay.
For Hyundai Motorsport, the rally will also be an opportunity to put the New Generation i20 R5 through its paces in a second event, following the debut in Corsica last month, with Kevin Abbring and Seb Marshall back at the wheel.
Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “Wales Rally GB has not been one of our more successful venues in the past two years, but with the New Generation i20 WRC I am hopeful of a better result this season. We have shown glimpses of our potential before, including Power Stage points in 2014 and stage wins last year. The pieces of the puzzle have all been there; we now need to put them all together. It’s quite a complex rally with long days and often the weather can play an influential factor, leading to muddy, slippery stages. We’ve had a very positive season with plenty of podium celebrations. We will be aiming to tick Wales Rally GB off our list of podium targets next weekend. Following our double podium in Spain, there’s certainly a lot of positive momentum in the team.”
Sordo and co-driver Marc Martí head to Wales buoyed by their recent second places in Germany and Spain, which have equalled their best result for Hyundai Motorsport. The duo finished fourth in GB last season, so will be hoping to go one better in this year’s event.
Sordo said: “Wales Rally GB is a special event for everyone. It’s a ‘big name’ event on the calendar and one where we all want to achieve success. Typically, the terrain is quite challenging. If it rains a lot, the conditions can get very muddy and slippery. I feel that we are well prepared with our car for this event. It offers good grip, so often it can be very enjoyable to drive in the wetter conditions. As always, I’ll try my best to compete near the front. We had an incredible rally in Spain – and it was fantastic to be in a fight for the victory. I will carry those feelings onto Wales and see what we can achieve.”
Neuville (#3 New Generation i20 WRC) and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul have been one of the most consistent crews since their win in Sardinia. A trio of consecutive podiums up to Spain have moved Neuville up to joint second in the Championship.
Neuville said: “Wales Rally GB is a very fast and exciting rally, especially with the narrow roads that go through the forest. It can, of course, be quite slippery as well. This is particularly an issue on the second pass when driving on wet gravel. It can make it very interesting, I can tell you! It’s a nice event and one we all enjoy a lot. To be competitive, you need to find a good rhythm early on, so that will be our first objective. We want to be challenging again for the podium – and to keep up our positive run of results.”
Paddon (#20 New Generation i20 WRC) and co-driver John Kennard enjoyed their most competitive showing on tarmac in Spain but the Kiwi crew will be relishing a return to gravel. Paddon is fourth in the Drivers’ Championship, embroiled in a close battle for second. Just 16 points separate a quartet of drivers vying for the position with two rounds remaining.
Paddon said: “Rally Spain was a valuable event for us. We really made some good progress on the tarmac stages, and that was rewarded with our best result on the surface. I am now ready for a return to the loose stuff, so I’m looking forward to Wales Rally GB. It’s an event I enjoy a lot. It reminds me a bit of being back in New Zealand with the Welsh forest, and of course being an English-speaking venue. Despite it being an enjoyable rally, I’ve never really been able to put together a good result. That is definitely something we want to rectify this year. Bring it on!”
The stage action for Wales Rally GB gets underway on Friday 28 October, starting with the 32km Myherin, and runs right up until Sunday 30 October with the Brenig Power Stage bringing the event to a conclusion.
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 has developed a brand new car, the New Generation i20 WRC, which made its rally debut with a podium finish in Rallye Monte-Carlo in January 2016. The team registered its first win with the new car in Rally Argentina, the fourth round of the season.
Further information about Hyundai Motorsport is available at: http://motorsport.hyundai.com
About Hyundai Motor
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.
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