Double podium target for Hyundai Motorsport in Rally de Portugal

Hyundai Motorsport has its sights set on a double podium finish in this weekend’s Rally de Portugal, the sixth round of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)
Thierry Neuville enjoyed a competitive Saturday, scoring a string of top-three times and two more stage wins, to move into second overall, one place ahead of Dani Sordo in third
Hayden Paddon re-joined under Rally 2 on Saturday morning but was forced to retire in the afternoon loop with steering rack failure.

Rally de Portugal Day Two
20 May 2017

Matosinhos, Portugal

May 20, 2017 – Hyundai Motorsport has edged another step closer to its target in this weekend’s Rally de Portugal, round six of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), as the team has two of its crews firmly inside the top-three.

The team is looking in good shape to pick up a double podium result on Sunday afternoon – the first in Portugal – with Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo in second and third respectively.

The third Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team crew of Hayden Paddon and Seb Marshall were forced to retire before the end of the penultimate day with steering rack failure. They had already re-joined on Saturday morning under Rally 2 regulations after electrics issues on Friday. They will contest Sunday’s stages, also under Rally 2.

Saturday’s itinerary took in a repeat loop of three stages run in hot and sunny conditions. Each pass gradually increased in complexity and stage length with the 17.43km Vieira do Minho followed by the 22.30km Cabeceiras de Basto and 37.55km Amarante tests.
Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Neuville and his compatriot co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul started the day in buoyant mood after moving into fourth place late on Friday evening. They began the day smoothly with a solid opening loop, finding themselves in second place after Ott Tanak lost time on SS12 (Amarante 1). The Belgians picked up their third stage win of the weekend in SS13 (Vieira do Minho 2) and ended the day with an impressive fastest time through Amarante. They will start Sunday’s final stages with a 16.8s deficit to rally leader Sébastien Ogier.

Neuville said: “We have done all we could do today to stay in touch with the rally leader. We have shown consistent pace throughout the day and also taken two stage wins ourselves, which is encouraging. But Ogier has been out of reach in some stages today, which has allowed him to build a healthy lead. We are pretty happy to be second, though, especially after the tough day we had yesterday. This morning was something of a compromise on tyres. We started strongly in SS13 with the win but then it was hit and miss, as we gained in some places and lost in others. The final run of the day was the one I felt most comfortable with, and it was nice to end the day with a stage win. There are still opportunities in the final four stages but as a team we have two cars on the podium, so we won’t be doing anything crazy on Sunday morning.”

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

Sordo and fellow Spaniard Marc Martí fulfilled their objectives of securing a provisional podium position on the penultimate day. They have a comfortable buffer to fourth place after a largely consistent Saturday. Traction issues prevented them from mounting a strong challenge to the leaders but they still have a second 2017 season podium to fight for on Sunday.

Sordo said: “It’s been a difficult day really but we can be reasonably content to be in a comfortable podium position. I tried my best, as always, but I wanted to put up more of a battle for the lead than we were able to. The car was sliding around at the rear quite a bit, especially in the morning, and we were missing some traction compared to our nearest rivals. We tried to make improvements at lunchtime but the times did not improve. The stages were still enjoyable and I had fun. We can’t be too disappointed to be third, on the provisional podium, which was our target this weekend. There is still a lot to do on Sunday, so it is not guaranteed yet.”

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

For Paddon and British co-driver Seb Marshall, Saturday was all about learning after a tough Friday saw them lose time due to an electrics issue. The team changed the electric loom at evening service, which put them into Rally 2 and starting second on the road. With the added complication of cleaning the stages, it was always going to be a tough day, but they fought valiantly. However, a steering rack failure in SS13 (Vieira do Minho 2) forced a premature retirement for the day.

Paddon commented: “What can I say? It just seems our bad luck continues. We started this morning’s loop in a positive frame of mind despite the issues we had yesterday. The team worked hard to replace the loom on the car to allow us to continue under Rally 2. We knew it would be tough as second on the road, but we were determined to push and have some fun. I enjoyed it! We had some good sideways moments and put on a good show for the fans. The times were never going to be representative with all the cleaning we had to do. Then, in the afternoon, our luck turned once again as we experienced a steering problem that ended the day early. Not a lot more to add, other than we’ll try to have a trouble-free final day tomorrow.”

So near, so far

After a podium in Mexico and subsequent victories in Corsica and Argentina, a top-three result in Portugal on Sunday would represent Hyundai Motorsport’s fourth podium celebration in a row. With three separate stages on Sunday – and two runs through the famous Fafe jump – there is still all to play for, so the team and crews can’t take anything for granted.

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “On the whole, I am pretty satisfied. It seems we’re missing a bit of performance compared to M-Sport and particularly to Ogier who has been doing a fine job this weekend. We have never finished on the podium here in Portugal, so that is our top aim first and foremost. With Thierry in second and Dani in third, we are hopeful of achieving that tomorrow but we have plenty more hurdles to overcome. The team worked hard last night to get Hayden ready for today’s stages under Rally 2, but we’ve experienced some steering rack problems on the #4 car this afternoon. Unfortunately, it marked the end of his day today, which is incredibly frustrating for us all, but the crew will be back on the stages on Sunday, hopefully to end the rally in a more positive manner. Tomorrow, everyone will be looking forward to the Fafe jump, but we hope the amazing crowd support in this rally will spur us on to finishing on the podium, preferably with two cars. That would be a good result for us this weekend.”

Sunday’s itinerary at a glance

A morning loop of three stages will greet crews on Sunday, as they tackle the legendary Fafe stage to start the day.

The 11.18km stage will be followed by the 11.91km Luilhas test and shorter 8.66km Montim stage. Crews will not be deceived by the comparatively shorter nature of these stages, as they may still ‘bite’.

A repeat of Fafe will bring the rally to a spectacular conclusion with the very many local and travelling fans showing all their support at the world-famous jump.

42.93km may not seem a lot, but run over four stages anything could happen on the final day.

Overall Classification after Day Two

1-S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Ford Fiesta WRC 3:15:24.6
2-T. Neuville N. Gilsoul Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +16.8
3-D. Sordo M. Martí Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +51.3
4-O. Tanak M. Jarveoja Ford Fiesta WRC +1:29.6
5-C. Breen S. Martin Citroën C3 WRC +1:32.4
6-E. Evans D. Barritt Ford Fiesta WRC +3:01.8
7-J. Hänninen K. Lindstrom Toyota Yaris WRC +3:29.8
8-M. Østberg O. Floene Ford Fiesta WRC +5:16.6
9-J.M Latvala M. Anttila Toyota Yaris WRC +5:32.7
10-A. Mikkelsen A. Jaeger Škoda Fabia R5 +7:06.6














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