Hyundai Motorsport takes control in Corsica as Neuville moves into lead

Hyundai Motorsport leads Tour de Corse with Thierry Neuville enjoying a 39-second advantage at the end of Saturday’s stages
Dani Sordo has moved into third place after a positive penultimate day to put the team in with a strong chance of a double podium finish
With Hayden Paddon in sixth, Hyundai Motorsport is well placed for its best combined rally result of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship.

Tour de Corse Day Two

8 April 2017

Bastia, Corsica

April 8, 2017 – Hyundai Motorsport has ended the penultimate day of Tour de Corse, the fourth round of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), leading the rally by 39 seconds after a strong day on Corsica for the team.

Thierry Neuville put in a sublime performance throughout the day to score three wins out of the four contested stages. The Belgian finds himself in control of the rally with two stages left to run on Sunday.

Dani Sordo helped the team to a 1-2 in SS6, the first run through Novella, and holds third place overall. Hayden Paddon also enjoyed a more positive Saturday to hold sixth on the classification heading into the final day.

On Corse for victory

Saturday’s itinerary has seen a repeat loop of two stages, the gruelling 48.71km La Porta-Valle di Rostino and the famous run up to Novella, which has been tackled in a shorter 17.27km format for this year’s Tour de Corse.

In contrast to the opening day, Hyundai Motorsport has seen a more assured performance from the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC in its first competitive tarmac rally. Changes made to the set-up overnight have given crews more confidence, while a trouble-free day has allowed the team to move into a commanding position.

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

Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul dug deep on today’s stages to extract maximum performance from the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC and themselves. A perfect morning saw them take two stage wins, and reduce the deficit to then leader Kris Meeke to 1.5-seconds. With Meeke’s retirement, the Belgian crew took the lead and finished the day with a third stage win of the weekend – the team’s 23rd so far this season.

Neuville commented: “A fantastic day for us, and a real turnaround from Friday’s stages. The team worked really hard to improve the set-up of the car for today’s loops, and the handling was much better. I felt more confident to push and could carry more speed through the corners. To score two stage wins on the first loop was very pleasing and we finished strongly with another fastest time this afternoon. Aside from a small spin in SS7, we’ve had nearly the perfect day. We won’t take anything for granted even with a 39-second advantage over Ogier. We have one very long stage to start Sunday, so this rally is far from over! To be leading at the end of the penultimate day, though, is an important step closer to our target.”

Crew Notes: Sordo/Martí (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Sordo and co-driver Marc Martí showed improved pace on Saturday’s opening loop, and set the second fastest time in the first Novella stage. It was a marked step-up compared to Friday, and allowed the Spaniards to move into the all-important podium positions. With Jari-Matti Latvala and Craig Breen around 12 seconds behind, Sunday’s final stages look set to be a fierce battle.

Sordo said: “We started this morning feeling more confident and we were setting better stage times. The team worked hard last night on the differentials, suspension and general set-up of the car. I was much happier and we could immediately notice the improvement. The afternoon wasn’t as good. I pushed as hard as I could but the times were not as fast as this morning. Still, we are in third place and involved in a close fight, so we have to work hard in the final two stages tomorrow to defend our position – and hopefully score my first podium of the season.”

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

Moving up to sixth overall, Paddon and co-driver John Kennard are on course to equal their result from last season. The position alone doesn’t tell the whole story as the Kiwi crew feels they have made important steps forward on the tight and twisty Corsican stages.

Paddon said: “We have made steady progress today, trying to close on the top-five. To be honest, we’re in a bit of a no man’s land on the classification, a bit too far away to pose any threat to Breen. After yesterday, we wanted to try a few things to improve our feeling in the car, and the morning loop allowed us to do that. There was a bit more gravel pulled out on the stages in the afternoon loop but the route note crew did a great job to report that back to us. I have enjoyed driving these stages today and we are closer to the front than we were here six months ago, so it’s not all bad. Our focus is now on bringing the car home. Anything could happen yet.”

Fourth time lucky?

Heading into Sunday’s final stages with two crews on the provisional podium gives Hyundai Motorsport a good chance of improving on its second-place on Corsica six months ago. However, the team will be keeping its feet firmly on the ground knowing the challenges that still lie ahead on Sunday.

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “I am delighted with how we have responded to our difficult start to this rally. We spent time analysing the data from yesterday’s stages and made important set-up adjustments to all three Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC cars. The crews all reported improvements, which is exactly what we were aiming to achieve. Thierry has been flying today with three stages wins and now leading the rally with a comfortable margin. We’re not getting carried away yet because tomorrow we face the longest stage of the entire rally – at almost 54km. The result of that will undoubtedly be crucial to the outcome of the event. Of course we hope to pick up our first victory of 2017, but with Dani in third place we have our sights on a possible double podium. But let’s get to the end of SS10 first before we get too excited; we’re not going to be gifted the win.”
Sunday itinerary

Two stages will be run on Sunday, the 53.78km Antisanti – Poggio di Nazza and the 10.42km Porto-Vecchio – Palombaggia Power Stage.

The itinerary consists of the rally’s longest and shortest stages, offering crews two very different tests.

64.20km represents a significant opportunity for all crews to make up – or lose – time, which in this competitive WRC season will make for a thrilling finale to this rally.

Classification after Day Two

1-T. Neuville-N. Gilsoul-Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 2:44:10.2
2-S. Ogier-J. Ingrassia-Ford Fiesta WRC +38.9
3-D. Sordo-M. Martí-Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +57.7
4-J. M. Latvala-M. Anttila-Toyota Yaris WRC +1:09.4
5-C. Breen-S. Martin-Citroën C3 WRC +1:12.2
6-H. Paddon-J. Kennard-Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +1:43.8
7-A. Mikkelsen-A. Jaeger-Škoda Fabia R5 +6:21.7
8-T. Suninen-M. Markkula-Ford Fiesta R5 +7:29.6
9-S. Sarrazin-J. J. Renucci-Škoda Fabia R5 +7:46.8
10-Y. Rossel-B. Fulcrand-Citroën DS3 R5 +9:56.5

















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