Hyundai Motorsport crews in close battle for Wales Rally GB podium.


Hyundai Motorsport has all three New Generation i20 WRC crews inside the top-six at the end of the penultimate day of Wales Rally GB
Thierry Neuville and Hayden Paddon are involved in a close fight for the final place on the podium with just 12.6s between them in third and fourth places respectively
Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul added a second stage win of the weekend in the morning’s SS11 stage (Gartheiniog 1).

Deeside, Great Britain

October 29, 2016 – Hyundai Motorsport has moved one step closer to achieving its objective of a podium finish in this weekend’s Wales Rally GB, the 12th round of the 13-event FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).

At the end of Saturday’s eight stages, all three crews had consolidated their top-six positions with Thierry Neuville remaining in third, Hayden Paddon fourth and Dani Sordo holding sixth place. Just 12.6 seconds separate Neuville and Paddon in an exciting battle for the final podium position.

It was another tough day on the slippery Welsh stages but all three New Generation i20 WRC cars made it through largely unscathed. Typical early morning Welsh fog lifted to leave the cloudy and damp conditions, which was still a vast improvement on the equivalent day twelve months ago. Still, the slippery terrain meant that crews had little respite.

Adding to Saturday’s challenges, there was once again no luxury of a midday service and no remote tyre-fitting zone to prepare for the repeat afternoon loop. In total, crews had to negotiate almost 100km of special stages, including Pantperthog, Dyfi and Gartheiniog – which have not featured on the Wales Rally GB itinerary since 1997. In another new addition for 2016, a 1.8km stage around Cholmondeley Castle this evening marked the WRC’s first stage in England since 1999.

For Neuville (#3 New Generation i20 WRC) and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul, representing the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team again this weekend, it was another strong showing. The Belgians were rarely outside the top-three in Saturday’s stages and added another stage win in SS11, the first run through Gartheiniog.

Neuville said: “We’ve had a good day, driving fast and smooth. The morning loop went OK. The first run through Dyfi was a bit more difficult. I clipped a bank on the inside and lost the steering, so I was a bit out of rhythm. We were fortunate because it could have been worse. We lost too much time in the foggy conditions but other than that it went well. We set the fastest time on the following stage and we’ve been able to extend our hold on third place. In the afternoon, we focused on controlling our pace, driving efficiently and finding traction. As long as we are on the podium tomorrow I’ll be content, but there’s still work to do before we can think of that.”

Paddon (#20 New Generation i20 WRC) and co-driver John Kennard are doing all they can to chase down their Belgian colleagues for the final podium position. The Kiwi crew took second in the afternoon’s Aberhirnant stage behind the wheel of the Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team car.

Paddon said: “It’s been a day of careful strategy today with no lunchtime service and no remote tyre fitting zone. We struggled slightly to get confidence on the morning loop. We didn’t lose much time but I needed to find my mojo a bit. The conditions were quite typical for Wales, still very slippery but with more consistent grip. I’ve had to dial-in the driving because it’s not my natural style, so that’s been the main struggle. We made some changes, which gave me a better feeling, but we couldn’t find enough traction. It’s a close fight for the podium with Thierry and the gap is not so big. We’ll have to see what we can do to build more confidence for Sunday’s final stages.”

Sordo and co-driver Marc Martí have continued to struggle on the slippery Welsh stages. The Spanish duo, who finished second at home in Spain earlier this month, hold sixth but will have to work hard to cement that position on Sunday.

Sordo said: “It has not been a particularly memorable rally for us so far. The stages are wonderful and I enjoy them but we have simply not been able to find the pace we need to fight higher up the classification. The conditions have been difficult with slippery and damp patches throughout. It’s better than last year – and a characteristic of this rally – but it just hasn’t clicked for me this weekend. We will continue to do all we can to get the most out of the car and ourselves. The gap to those in front of us is too big to reduce tomorrow morning, so we have to keep it clean and secure this position.”

Hyundai Motorsport has twice finished in fourth position in Wales Rally GB so the current positions held by Neuville and Paddon would represent the team’s best finish in the event. Holding third, fourth and sixth positions ahead of the final six stages puts the team in a good position to achieve its pre-rally targets.

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “We have a close podium battle brewing between Thierry and Hayden, which is going to make Sunday morning’s stages exciting. We wanted to score our Wales podium this weekend, so I am sure our crews will give their all to make sure we achieve the best result possible. At the same time, it’s a shame we’ve not been able to mount a stronger challenge to the leading cars. We have shown good pace on occasions, with Thierry taking another stage win today, and many other top-three stage times. However, it seems that the slippery conditions are not playing to our strengths. It’s a tough rally and the lack of lunchtime service or tyre zone adds an extra strategic element.”

Crews will tackle three different stages on Sunday morning, each run twice – Clocaenog, Alwen and Brenig, the latter of these acting as the rally-concluding Power Stage.

Overall Classification after Day Two
1-S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:43:25.3
2-O. Tanak / R. Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +33.8
3-T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +1:34.5
4-H. Paddon / J. Kennard (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +1:47.1
5-K. Meeke / P. Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC) +2:29.5
6-D. Sordo / M. Martí (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +3:36.0
7-M. Østberg / O. Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:15.0
J. M. Latvala / M. Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +4:22.2
8-S. Lefebvre / G. De Turckheim (Citroën DS3 WRC) +6:52.7
9-E. Camilli / B. Veillas (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +7:35.6













Nicoletta Russo
Media Hyundai Motorsport

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All The Best, Pablito, Pablo MACHI WRC
Rally Report Magazine Argentina

Photos: Media Hyundai Motorsport GmbH