Struggle continues for Hyundai Motorsport in Finland

Hyundai Motorsport has endured another disappointing day at Rally Finland, the ninth round of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship 
Benefitting from retirements ahead of them, both Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo gained positions on Saturday, to move into sixth and ninth places respectively
Hayden Paddon re-joined under Rally 2, and was straight back into the top-five in stage, but the Kiwi was forced to retire in SS15 after hitting a rock on the line.

Rally Finland Day Two
29 July 2017

Jyväskylä, Finland

July 29, 2017 – Rally Finland remains a frustrating nemesis for Hyundai Motorsport after another arduous day on the high-speed gravel stages.

In stark contrast to the team’s strongest all-round performance of the season in Poland, Finland is proving yet again to be one of its most unrewarding.

Thierry Neuville has moved up to sixth place on the overall classification, as some of the leading contenders experienced their own difficulties, with Dani Sordo advancing into the top ten. Hayden Paddon, who started again under Rally 2 on Saturday morning, retired after hitting a rock on the line on the day’s second stage (SS15 Päijälä).

The undisputed highlight of Saturday’s itinerary was the mighty Ouninpohja stage, including the iconic Yellow House jump, which was tackled twice. In addition, crews faced other challenges in the 14.90km Pihlajakoski, 22.68km Päijäla and shorter 4.21km Saalahti stages.

Hyundai Motorsport had wanted to make the most of any opportunities to advance up the classification. It is an objective that the team will also adopt on the final morning.

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

Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul showed slightly improved pace in the afternoon loop with higher grip levels. It was a steady, but less than spectacular, day for the Belgian crew as Neuville looks to outscore his closest Championship rival, Sébastien Ogier, this weekend.

Neuville said: “Another dissatisfying day for us, but we have gained a few places since yesterday thanks, unfortunately, to others experiencing trouble. We need to pick up as many points as we can, to try and close the gap to Sébastien. The car performed better in the afternoon loop, although it wasn’t without its difficulties. In the final stage, I hit a rock in the narrow section and bent the steering. I had to back off a bit. We know that we need to rely on some luck to make up any more positions on the final day, but we’ll see what happens.”

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

The struggles continued for Sordo and co-driver Marc Martí on Saturday as they were unable to make much impact on the timesheets. The lack of performance did not detract from their enjoyment of the Finnish stages, and they benefitted from other retirements to move up to ninth overall.

Sordo said: “These stages are fantastic and it is a privilege to drive them. The two runs through Ouninpohja were incredible, like a circuit inside the forest. Overall, we had a better afternoon loop when the stages had more grip, but it is just difficult to find motivation and enjoyment when the times are not there. We have not been in a position to fight for anything meaningful so we are just focused on getting through each stage – it is not an ideal way to approach a rally but we can do no more.”

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

Paddon and co-driver Seb Marshall had shown good pace in their Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC on Friday, setting top-three stage times before their retirement. It was a similar story on Saturday with a top-five time in SS14 (Pihlajakoski) followed by retirement after hitting a rock on the line in SS15 (Päijälä).

Paddon said: “There was nothing we could do about our retirement today. We were going through a blind left, into a right, when all of a sudden I caught sight of a big football-sized rock in the road. In the split-second it took to see it, and I knew it would do damage. We could not avoid it and it broke the suspension arm. The real shame is the lack of mileage from this rally. We will be back out on Sunday to try and end this weekend on a high note.”

Frustration in Finland

Hyundai Motorsport will continue trying to understand why its performance in Finland is not at the same level shown at all other rallies so far this season. With four stages still to run, and the possibility of scoring some Power Stage points, the team still has time for its Finnish luck to turn.

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “Today has been almost a carbon copy of our difficult Friday. Thierry and Dani have not found the consistency and confidence they need to attack the stages, while unluckily Hayden has been forced to retire after hitting a rock on the line. To say it is frustrating does not really do it justice. Our rivals just simply have better performance than us this weekend, and we are unable to match them. We could see some small improvements this afternoon when grip levels were higher, but it is still far from where we want to be.”

Sunday’s itinerary at a glance

Four stages will be held on the final day of Rally Finland, totaling just 33.84km.

A repeat loop of the 6.80km Lempäa and 10.12km Oittila stages will bring the event to a close, with the second run through Oittila acting as the rally’s Power Stage.

Classification after Day 2

1 E. Lappi J. Ferm Toyota Yaris WRC 2:13:02.7
2 T. Suninen M. Markkula Ford Fiesta WRC +49.1
3 J. Hänninen K. Lindström Toyota Yaris WRC +53.4
4 E. Evans D. Barritt Ford Fiesta WRC +54.7
5 C. Breen S. Martin Citroën C3 WRC +1:16.9
6 T. Neuville N. Gilsoul Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +1:31.6
7 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Ford Fiesta WRC +2:07.5
8 K. Meeke P. Nagle Citroën C3 WRC +2:59.1
9 D. Sordo M. Martí Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +3:54.0
10 M. Østberg T. Eriksen Ford Fiesta WRC +4:23.6













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