Hyundai Motorsport crews on a charge as fight opens up for Rally Australia victory.


Battle for second in the Drivers’ Championship still wide open at the end of penultimate day in Australia, the final round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)
Hayden Paddon has moved up to third overall after a spirited win on the opening Nambucca stage. The Kiwi is just 12 seconds from the rally lead
Thierry Neuville holds fourth, adding another stage win in the afternoon’s Valla16 test. Dani Sordo has advanced to fifth following a more positive day.

Rally Australia Day Two

19 Nov, 2016

Coffs Harbour, Australia

November 19, 2016 – Hyundai Motorsport has moved into contention for the overall win in this weekend’s season-concluding round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in Australia.

Hayden Paddon has moved up into third on the overall classification, reducing the gap to leader Andreas Mikkelsen to 12 seconds after a masterful performance on Saturday.

Thierry Neuville, who is in an extremely close fight with both Mikkelsen and Paddon for second in the Drivers’ Championship, holds fourth. After a tough opening day, Dani Sordo has moved back into the top-five. As the results currently stand, just one point would separate Neuville and Mikkelsen in the Championship heading into Sunday’s decisive Power Stage.

Saturday has seen crews tackle 135km of special stages, including two passes through the daunting 50.80km Nambucca test, one of the longest, most challenging of the entire season. A lunchtime service at Coffs Harbour gave crews the opportunity to prepare for the afternoon loop with tyre management proving an influential factor in the warmer afternoon temperatures.

Three Super Specials have once again allowed local fans the chance to see the WRC cars in action, with every single kilometre crucial in the outcome of not only the rally but also the fight for second in the Drivers’ Championship.

Paddon (#4 New Generation i20 WRC) and co-driver John Kennard took their second stage win of the Rally Australia weekend in the first run through Nambucca. Initially moving up to second overall, the Kiwi crew moved back down to third during the afternoon loop. With just 12 seconds separating them from rally leader Mikkelsen, it’s all to play for on the final morning.

Paddon said: “It’s been a good day. We started well with the stage win through Nambucca, which set a positive tone. There was a lot of dust coming into the car on those first stages. It was a bit of a distraction, but you have to expect that in Rally Australia. We knew that Seb (Ogier) would be on a charge in the afternoon, which proved to be the case, so we just focused on keeping up the pressure. We missed a bit of speed in the afternoon loop but all in all it’s been a good improvement over last year. We’re involved in a close fight up front. It’s a good position to be in and we’ll certainly be giving it a hard push tomorrow to see what we can do.”

Neuville (#3 New Generation i20 WRC) and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul kept their Championship aspirations alive on the penultimate day. Despite an incorrect tyre choice on the morning loop, the Belgians put in a strong afternoon performance, including their second stage win of the weekend in the repeat run through Valla16.

Neuville said: “It’s been close to a perfect day for us considering the conditions. We made a wrong tyre choice this morning, which lost us some ground in the battle for third place. I was concerned the soft tyres would be too soft for the conditions. In hindsight, we should have perhaps taken the risk but that’s easier said than done when we’re trying to secure second in the Championship. The afternoon was better and I felt I drove well. We had to manage the tyres carefully but I was pretty pleased to set the fastest time in SS16, when conditions were more equal for everybody. We’re still firmly in the podium fight and we definitely won’t give up until the rally is over.”

Sordo (#20 New Generation i20 WRC) and co-driver Marc Martí put a disappointing Friday behind them as they looked to regain ground on today’s stages. The Spanish crew set their sights on the top-five and achieved just that. They are in a close scrap with Mads Østberg as the Championship moves into its final day.

Sordo said: “A much more positive day for us. After incurring the 20-second time penalty yesterday, we wanted to make up some positions. We knew from our performance on Friday that we had the pace to compete with the front-runners, so I was pleased to set some good times today. We started with the long Nambucca stage so it was important to find a good rhythm quickly. We went a bit wide, and lost some time, but apart from that everything has worked well. The car has been nice to drive, even if we have had to take care with the tyres. I am feeling confident, so let’s see what we can do tomorrow. We want to finish the season strongly.”

With three New Generation i20 WRCs inside the top-five, Hyundai Motorsport is well positioned to achieve its first ever podium on Australian ground this weekend. After a strong 2016, the team wants to demonstrate its intentions for next season with a positive finish to this season.

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “Things are shaping up to offer a very exciting end to this fantastic season of WRC. The competition for second place in the drivers’ classification is really intense, and there is hardly anything between the crews. There’s a strong possibility of things being decided by Power Stage points, which means we are all in for a thrilling final day. It’s not going to be straightforward on Sunday with five stages – including the long 32km Bucca test. From a team point of view, of course we want to take our first Australian podium this weekend, but with just 12 seconds separating the top three drivers, we definitely want to do all we can to push for victory.”

Sunday morning’s itinerary takes in the relatively short 6.2km Settles Reverse and 6.44km Wedding Bells stages in the morning with the 31.90km Bucca in between. Both of the shorter stages will be repeated in the afternoon with Wedding Bells acting as the season-ending and potentially decisive Power Stage.

Overall Classification after Day Two
1-A. Mikkelsen / A. Jager (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:15:06.2
2-S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +2.0
3-H. Paddon / J. Kennard (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +12.0
4-T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +33.8
5-D. Sordo / M. Martí (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +59.2
6-M. Østberg / O. Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:00.6
7-E. Camilli / B. Veillas (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:21.7
8-O. Tanak / R. Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:19.9
9-L. Bertelli / S. Scattolin (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:56.6
10-E. Lappi / J. Ferm (Škoda Fabia R5) +5:22.7












Nicoletta Russo
Media Hyundai Motorsport

Admin and Translation:

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

Photos: Media Hyundai Motorsport GmbH



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