Steady start and podium potential for Hyundai Motorsport at Tour de Corse

Hyundai Motorsport has established its podium credentials on the opening day of Tour de Corse, the fourth round of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)
The debut tarmac event of the WRC season has presented the team with its first competitive outing on asphalt for the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Thierry Neuville holds third place after the first four stages with Dani Sordo fifth and Hayden Paddon seventh.

Bastia, Corsica

April 7, 2017 – Hyundai Motorsport had a solid start to the first tarmac event of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) season, the legendary Tour de Corse.

Thierry Neuville holds a provisional top-three position at the end of the first day as the Belgian aims to repeat his podium from six months ago on the tight and twisty Corsican stages. Along with co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul, Neuville scored second place in the 2016 event, a result he’d at least like to match by Sunday lunchtime.

Dani Sordo is involved in a close fight for fourth place, having set consistent pace during Friday’s two loops. After a cautious start, Hayden Paddon holds seventh overall in the #4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC.

Quality control

Despite its earlier April position on the WRC calendar, teams were greeted with glorious warm and sunny weather conditions for the opening day of Tour de Corse. Crews tackled a total of four stages, but it was a case of quality over quantity with a total of 120.64km contested.

The 31.20km Pietrosella – Albitreccia and 29.12km Plage du Liamone – Sarrola – Carcopino stages were both run twice, with only a remote tyre fitting zone as an interlude. No lunchtime service made for an unforgiving opening to the classic Corsican event with a few crews getting caught out on the tricky stages.

With all three Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team crews safely through to evening service, they will be looking to find more pace on the second day – and make their way up the classification.

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

The Belgian duo of Neuville and Gilsoul were the epitome of consistency on Friday, having set the third fastest time in each of the four stages. They put their vast knowledge of the event to good use to stay in touch with the leaders heading into Saturday, which will be the longest day of the entire rally.

Neuville commented: “Everyone seems to be on strong pace here this weekend, which will make it a nice fight. The first stage this morning went OK from my point of view. We had a few things to improve on the car, with understeer in some corners affecting the confidence a bit. Although we had no lunchtime service, we made some adjustments on the ride height to improve the grip at the front axle, which we hoped would give us better steering and turn-in performance. We tried to push in the afternoon loop but the gap to the front was still too big. We were certainly on the limit, so we’ll have to see what improvements we can make overnight to help us reduce the gap to Meeke and Ogier, who have both been quick today.”

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

Sordo and co-driver Marc Martí made it safely through both loops on Friday to position themselves in the fight for fourth. Currently holding fifth, just 1.4-seconds splits the Spanish duo from Craig Breen, with plenty still to play for on Saturday’s four long stages.

Sordo said: “It’s been a relatively trouble-free day for us, but we are missing some speed and performance compared to our rivals. It’s difficult to put our finger on what is exactly missing because the car feels quick and I have felt very comfortable with my driving. We tried a few things today, also adapting my driving style, to try and extract some more pace, but there wasn’t any big change. We have to discuss things with the team this evening; I am sure there are more things we can try.”

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

Friday got off to a cautious start for the Kiwi pair of Paddon and co-driver John Kennard. They built confidence during the day but find themselves in seventh place overall, looking for improvements to claw their way back up the standings.

Paddon said: “The first stage this morning was not the ideal way to start the rally. It was tricky with some damp patches that did nothing whatsoever for the confidence. The second stage went better but the times were still not there. We couldn’t do much over lunch with just a tyre fitting zone so we persevered for the afternoon loop. In SS3, we had a good first half but we then lost the rear towards the end, which created a few moments. Once you lose the rear, you are a passenger really. The final stage felt fine but we know we can do a better job. The gap is bigger than I would like but we have this evening to work out how we can turn things around for the rest of the event.”

Corse for optimism
In the first competitive tarmac rally for the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, there is cause for encouragement with Neuville firmly in the podium hunt. The team will be analysing over the data this evening, and making set-up adjustments in service, in a bid to give the crews more confidence and pace for tomorrow’s 132km of stages.

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “It’s been a satisfactory first day for us; steady but not spectacular. We knew that it would be a learning experience in our first tarmac event with the new car, but I am confident we can find more pace over the coming two days. This season is incredibly competitive between all the manufacturers so even the smallest deficit can make a big difference. We know what we are capable of, and I am hopeful we can unlock some more performance. Over the next two days, we have some really long and demanding stages – including a 49km tomorrow and a 54km on Sunday – so we need to be careful and stay out of trouble. There might only be six stages to run, but we can’t underestimate the challenges that remain.”

Saturday itinerary
Four stages on Saturday will total 131.96km – the longest day of the weekend.

The 48.71km La Porta – Valle di Rostino gets things underway at 08:40 local time before the shorter 17.27km Novella stage.

Lunchtime service returns for Saturday ahead of a repeat of the morning loop to conclude a deceptively long itinerary.

Classification after Day One

1-K. Meeke-P. Nagle-Citroën C3 WRC-1:16:32.1
2-S. Ogier-J. Ingrassia-Ford Fiesta WRC +10.3
3-T. Neuville-N. Gilsoul -Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +25.8
4-C. Breen-S. Martin-Citroën C3 WRC +52.4
5-D. Sordo-M. Martí-Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +53.8
6-J. M. Latvala-M. Anttila-Toyota Yaris WRC +1:00.2
7-H. Paddon-J. Kennard-Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +1:18.8
8-S. Lefebvre -G. Moreau-Citroën C3 WRC +2:07.6
9-A. Mikkelsen-A. Jaeger-Škoda Fabia R5 +2:57.3
10-S. Sarrazin-J. J. Renucci-Škoda Fabia R5 +3:17.8















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