Hyundai Motorsport mounts podium charge after exciting Friday in Portugal

Dani Sordo heads up the Hyundai Motorsport trio at the end of Friday’s action in Rally Portugal, with the Spaniard less than five seconds from the overall lead in second place
Thierry Neuville was one of five drivers to have led the rally after nine stages. The Belgian has taken two stage wins so far this weekend – and holds fourth place overall, just 11.1s adrift
Hayden Paddon had been vying for the rally lead but an electrics issue halted his progress in the afternoon loop and he will re-join on Saturday under Rally 2.

Rally de Portugal Day One
19 May 2017

Matosinhos, Portugal

May 19, 2017 – It has been a day of highs and lows for the Hyundai Motorsport squad in Rally Portugal, the sixth round of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with all three crews showing their potential to win in a tantalisingly close battle.

The Spanish pair of Dani Sordo and Marc Martí find themselves firmly in contention for a podium, as they hold second place overall less than five seconds from leader Ott Tanak. Belgians Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul hold fourth place, just six seconds further back and setting up a fascinating rally.

Stage wins all round

The event got underway on Thursday with a Super Special stage on the Lousada Rallycross circuit, with Thierry Neuville topping the timesheets. Friday’s itinerary saw crews tackle a repeat loop of three stages – 26.70km Viana do Castelo, 18.10km Caminha and 27.46km Ponte de Lima – followed by two runs of the 1.9km Braga Street Stage in front of thousands of spectators.

All three Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC crews claimed stage wins on Friday. Sordo was fastest in SS7 (Ponte de Lima 2), while Neuville added to his SS1 success with an additional stage win in SS6 (Caminha 2). Hayden Paddon, meanwhile, set the best time in SS2 and SS5 (Viana do Castelo 1 and 2).

Losses and gains

Following his success in SS6, Neuville found himself losing some precious time in SS7 as he was stuck behind the ailing Toyota of Jari-Matti Latvala. After reviewing the situation in the evening, the Clerk of the Course adjusted the Belgian crew’s time by 11.7s for that stage allowing them to move back to a more representative fourth place overall.

Paddon and co-driver Seb Marshall also had late drama on Friday afternoon. The #4 crew’s podium efforts were thwarted by an electrics issue, which cost them significant time in the morning and afternoon loops. The team opted to replace the electric loom on their car on Friday evening, forcing them to re-start under Rally 2 on Saturday.

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

Spaniards Sordo and Martí have enjoyed strong support from the Portuguese and travelling Spanish fans. Their second place on the overall classification will give the crowds something to cheer about as they seek their second podium of the season.

Sordo said: “It’s been a very promising and highly enjoyable day. We have shown some good pace in the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, and set some competitive stage times. It is always a special feeling to perform so well in front of these passionate fans, so I was very happy to claim a stage win this afternoon. It’s been an incredibly close day and there are just five seconds separating the top three, with plenty more action behind us as well. I think it will continue to be an exciting rally with very tough stages to come on Saturday. I hope we can carry on in this way and try to score our second podium of the season.”

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

The Belgian duo of Neuville and Gilsoul are on a run of good results having been victorious in Corsica and Argentina. They took equal stage honours in Thursday evening’s Lousada Super Special and added another stage win on Friday in SS6, the repeat of Caminha.

Neuville said: “I am pleased that we got back some of our lost time. I felt that we could have regained some tomorrow but we are now more firmly in the podium and victory fight, which is fair. It was nice to share the stage win in Thursday evening’s super special but we got down to real business on Friday morning and it was a different story. It might not have been the best opening stage this morning but the feeling was getting better and better. We ended the morning just ten seconds from the podium. We wanted to give it a push in the afternoon where tyre choice was really important. I think we made the right decision for the entire loop, and we won SS6 with a very nice time. We were just focused on not making mistakes and closing the time deficit to the leader. Now we can put the dramas from today behind us and look ahead to Saturday with optimism.”

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

Paddon and Marshall had a spirited start to the rally. They began Friday with a stage win in SS2 (Viana do Castelo) and repeated that feat in the same stage of the afternoon loop (SS5). The Anglo-Kiwi crew were on a positive push, virtually leading the rally in SS7 (Ponte de Lima), when they stopped mid-stage with an electrics issue. The duo will hope for a cleaner Saturday benefitting from a later road position.

Paddon commented: “I honestly don’t know when we are going to catch a break. Things started well this morning with a stage win. We had a small electrical issue in SS3, which cost us some time, but it was really close at the top and we were firmly in the battle. We were expecting the second pass to suit us better. Tyre choice was an important consideration but we were managing that well. We benefitted from some positive changes to the diff and suspension at lunchtime service, so it was looking really promising. Then, in SS7, we were on a flyer but the electrical issue recurred suddenly and we stopped mid-stage. We lost 11 minutes before we could get restarted and we have to re-join under Rally 2 tomorrow. That’s effectively the rally over for us but our road position tomorrow means we can try to show our true pace. We can only use the remainder of the weekend as a test. I’m trying to stay positive but I hope there’s something really good when this run of bad luck ends.”

Podium potential in Portugal

Hyundai Motorsport has never scored a podium finish in Portugal, so the performance of the three crews today has been positive. An incredibly close fight saw the top-eight at one point during Friday separated by under ten seconds with all crews in the hunt. The team remains hopeful of staying in the battle as Rally Portugal moves into its longest day.

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “We could not have asked for a more exciting start to Rally Portugal with many different leaders of the event already. Thierry and Hayden have both led the rally at times, while Dani is on a podium charge, so there are lots of positives. However, we have also had our share of difficulties. Hayden will unfortunately have to re-join under Rally 2 on Saturday after electrical issues throughout the day. He lost nearly 11 minutes in the afternoon loop, so we have decided to spend time this evening to replace the electric loom and do all we can to give him a trouble-free Saturday and Sunday. He definitely showed his intentions to do well this weekend with some strong stage times. Thierry was held up behind Jari-Matti in that same stage, losing some time, but we are happy with the decision to give him some of that lost time back. He is now just six seconds behind Dani, with them both involved in a fascinating battle for the lead. It promises to be another thrilling day on Saturday!”

Saturday’s itinerary at a glance

Six stages make up Saturday’s schedule – a repeat loop of three stages totalling 154.56km.

Starting the day with the 17.43km Vieira do Minho, crews will then move onto the 22.30km Cabeceiras de Basto and the longest stage of the rally – the 37.55km Amarante test.

Lunchtime service will split the two loops with crews expected to face some of the toughest, roughest gravel terrain of the weekend.

Overall Classification after Day One

1-O. Tanak M. Jarveoja Ford Fiesta WRC 1:37:18.5
2-D. Sordo M. Martí Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +4.6
3-S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Ford Fiesta WRC +5.0
4-T. Neuville N. Gilsoul Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +11.1
5-C. Breen S. Martin Citroën C3 WRC +12.9
6-E. Evans D. Barritt Ford Fiesta WRC +18.3
7-J. Hänninen K. Lindstrom Toyota Yaris WRC +52.0
8-E. Lappi J. Ferm Toyota Yaris WRC +1:12.3
9-A. Mikkelsen A. Jaeger Škoda Fabia R5 +3:17.8
10-M. Østberg O. Floene Ford Fiesta WRC +3:50.0
… … … … …
24-H. Paddon S. Marshall Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +10:56.0











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