Hyundai Motorsport leads close fight in Sardinia with 1-2 on Friday

Hyundai Motorsport holds first and second position at the end of the opening day of Rally Italia Sardegna, round seven of the 13-round FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)
Hayden Paddon leads the way with an 8.2-second advantage over his Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team colleague, and last year’s Sardinia winner, Thierry Neuville
Dani Sordo claimed three stage wins on Friday but turbo-related problems on his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC cost him significant time and dropped him down the classification.

Rally Italia Sardegna Day One

9 june 2017

Alghero, Sardinia

June 9, 2017 – Hyundai Motorsport has ended the opening day of this weekend’s Rally Italia Sardegna, the seventh round of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) holding an encouraging 1-2 after nine of the scheduled 19 stages.

Hayden Paddon and his co-driver Seb Marshall lead the rally by a decent margin of 8.2-seconds following a consistent day for the recently formed partnership. The #4 crew were regularly inside the top-five throughout Friday, moving into the lead shortly before lunchtime service and increasing their advantage in the afternoon loop.

Stage impressions

Twice a rally winner already this season, Thierry Neuville fought valiantly to second place overall despite being second on the road in the dusty Sardinian stages. It was a day of mixed fortunes, however, for Dani Sordo as the Spaniard took three stage wins but lost around 14 minutes of time in total due to a turbo problem on his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC.

Road position can play an influential role in Sardinia with those running later in the order often benefitting from cleaner conditions. Friday’s itinerary took in the greatest number of stages of the weekend – a repeat loop of four stages each ranging from 14.5km to just over 19km in length. In hot conditions and under sunny skies, all three Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team crews showed strong pace, but with 14.7-seconds separating the top-five, it promises to be another close-run rally.

Crew Notes: Paddon/Marshall (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
In their second rally as a crew, Paddon and Marshall got to grips quickly with the Sardinian stages. Paddon made his Hyundai Motorsport debut in this event three years ago, and finished on the podium in 2015. He knows from experience that playing a long game can often deliver the best results.

Paddon said: “We approached today with a specific plan, and we didn’t deviate from that. We know you can’t win this rally on the first day, so we just wanted to feel comfortable. The car felt good and we wanted to continue our positive morning into the afternoon. Unfortunately, we picked up front-left damper damage in SS7, which changed the balance of the car; things didn’t feel as good. Our focus today was on securing a good road position for tomorrow, so it’s mission accomplished from that point of view. I enjoy tomorrow’s stages a lot but we know it’s a tough, unforgiving rally. It’s nice to be leading this evening but we’re not getting carried away.”

Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul scored their 30th stage win of the season in the rally-opening super special at the Ittiri Arena Show on Thursday evening. Aside from a small error in the morning’s second stage, the Belgian crew are in good shape at the event they won just twelve months ago.

Neuville commented: “It was nice to take the stage win on Thursday evening but today was the real start of the rally. We had a good day, although we lost around five seconds when we went straight at a junction in SS3 (Monte Olia), and had to reverse. Our road position meant we were cleaning quite a bit but I thought we might still be able to battle for a podium. We gave it a push in the afternoon, and actually didn’t have much performance left in our tyres by the end of the loop. Still, we set some pretty decent times and we have a great position in second, which will be important on Saturday.”

Crew Notes: Sordo/Martí (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Sordo and his co-driver Marc Martí showed their potential in the morning loop with a stage win in SS4 (Tula 1). They then experienced a turbo issue midway through SS5 (Tergu-Osilo), which slowed their arrival at stage-end. The team made a big effort to fix the problem during lunchtime service, but at the start of the afternoon a low boost pressure, caused the crew to lose more time. The Spaniards fixed it before the final two stages and were immediately back on the pace – claiming stage wins in SS8 (Tula 2) and SS9 (Tergu-Osilo 2) in dominant fashion.

Sordo commented: “To start with the positives, we have enjoyed these stages today and set some really competitive times when we could. Unfortunately, the turbo issue has overshadowed the day a bit. The team did all they could to resolve the problem fully at lunchtime service, but we then had troubles at the start of the afternoon loop related to the boost pressure. Thankfully, we were able to fix it in time for the final two stages, so we decided to go flat out and see what we could do. To take three stage wins today is obviously nice. Without the turbo issues, we might have been in the hunt for a podium. We will continue tomorrow but we know it’s going to be tough.”

Anything can happen

Rally Italia Sardegna has regularly delivered good memories for Hyundai Motorsport from the team’s 2-3 result with Paddon and Neuville in 2015, to Neuville’s spectacular victory last season. However, with plenty of drivers competing for the top-five, and the unpredictability of hot, punishing stages, anything could yet happen.

Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “All in all, we have had a promising start. It is great to see Hayden and Seb leading the way in just their second WRC rally together. They have enjoyed a consistent start to the event, and have taken a measured approach on this first day. We know that it’s not easy to be early on the road in Sardinia. Considering that, Thierry and Nicolas have performed very strongly today to be in second place. Unfortunately, for Dani and Marc, their turbo issue has cost them a lot of time. We will have to investigate closely what happened. It was clear from their three stage wins that they had the speed and performance to compete at the front this weekend. It’s a long, hot rally and lots can still happen. We have had good results in the past and also scored podiums on gravel this season with our Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, but we can’t take anything for granted with such close competition.”

Saturday at a glance

Crews will tackle the greatest distance of any day on Saturday with 143.16km of special stages across a repeated loop of three stages.

The 14.95km Coiluna-Loelle test will get things underway bright and early before crews move onto the longest individual stage of the entire rally – the 28.52km Monti di Alá.

Completing the loop will be the slightly shorter 28.11km Monte Lerno stage, a rough and rocky test known for the infamous Micky’s Jump.

Overall Classification after Day One

1-H. Paddon-S. Marshall-Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 1:31:02.6
2-T. Neuville-N. Gilsoul -Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +8.2
3-O. Tanak-M. Jarveoja-Ford Fiesta WRC +9.5
4-J.M Latvala -M. Anttila-Toyota Yaris WRC +9.8
5-M. Østberg-O. Floene-Ford Fiesta WRC +14.7
6-J. Hänninen-K. Lindstrom -Toyota Yaris WRC +38.0
7-S. Ogier-J. Ingrassia-Ford Fiesta WRC +41.0
8-E. Lappi-J. Ferm-Toyota Yaris WRC +1:05.3
9-A. Mikkelsen-A. Jaeger-Citroën C3 WRC +1:57.9
10-E. Camilli-B. Veillas-Ford Fiesta R5 +4:08.0


















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