Rally Sweden Day Two
17 February 2017

Rally Sweden – Day Two Report

Hyundai Motorsport has extended its lead of Rally Sweden to 22.7-seconds with all three Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC cars still inside the top-four overall

Thierry Neuville scored four stage wins on Saturday to build a buffer to his nearest rival, Craig Breen, as he chases his first victory of 2018
Andreas Mikkelsen still has his sights set on the podium, just 9.3s behind Breen, and ahead of Hayden Paddon in fourth place.

Torsby, Sweden

February 17, 2018 – Hyundai Motorsport continues to lead Rally Sweden, the second round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), after a measured performance on the penultimate day.

Thierry Neuville continued where he left off on Friday evening, defending his lead during the morning stages before extending his advantage with an assured afternoon loop. The Belgian will begin the final morning with a 22.7-second gap to second-placed Craig Breen.

All three Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC crews remain in the hunt for competitive finishes this weekend with Andreas Mikkelsen and Hayden Paddon holding strong third and fourth spots. There are just over nine seconds between Citroën’s Breen and Mikkelsen, setting up a tantalising final morning.

Saturday’s action took place on classic Swedish roads near to Hagfors, covering a total special stage distance of 120.31km. The 19.88km Torntop stage returned to the itinerary for the first time since 2014, when Hyundai Motorsport first contested Rally Sweden.

Spinning around

Crews also tackled the iconic Colin’s Crest jump in the 14.21km Vargåsen stage, with Neuville offering one of the most spectacular sights of the day! Two shorter stages brought the day to a thrilling conclusion with a Super Special Stage in Karlstad (1.90km) and the Torsby Sprint (3.43km) close to the Service Park.

The morning loop wasn’t without its problems for the Hyundai Motorsport trio, as both Neuville and Mikkelsen endured spins on SS10 (Hagfors 1). Paddon, meanwhile, opted for a cautious approach to the opening stages. All three crews increased their pace in the afternoon.

Neuville took four stage wins (SS11 Vargåsen, SS13 Hagfors 2, SS14 Vargåsen 2 and SS16 Torsby Sprint), backed up by Mikkelsen and Paddon with all three cars inside the top-four during the repeat loop. Hyundai Motorsport has amassed eight stage wins across all three crews so far this weekend, including four stage 1-2s and a stage 1-2-3. Last season, the team secured seven stage wins in Sweden.

Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Crew has led rally since SS3 and holds 22.7s advantage over Craig Breen
Four stage wins on Saturday including jaw-dropping jump over Colin’s Crest

Neuville said: “Things have gone pretty much to plan today and we can be pleased with our day overall. We had a bit of a stressful start this morning after a technical issue in the first stage and a spin in the second, which cost us some time. After that, though, we were able to increase the gap stage by stage. In the afternoon, we took six tyres compared to Craig’s five so we knew we’d lose a bit initially with the extra weight, but we then had fresher tyres for later in the loop. We gave a big push through SS13 and SS14, as we’re involved in a very close fight. We scored more stage wins, which was a nice reward for our efforts. I actually touched the inside bank of the Colin’s Crest jump, which created some exciting images for the fans. I think Colin himself would have called that ‘a little moment’ but we were still able to register the fastest time. We took things a bit steadier in the final stages and we are now prepared to fight for victory on Sunday morning.”

Crew Notes: Mikkelsen/Jæger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Spin in SS10 lost 15 seconds as Norwegians battle for top-three
Second in SS13/SS14 supported double Hyundai Motorsport 1-2 in stage

Mikkelsen said: “It has been a day of two halves. The morning loop could have been better. We had a spin in SS10, the second stage of the day, and lost around 15 seconds. We touched a bank and had to reverse out, which was easier said than done, as it was a narrow section of road. We made some set-up adjustments at lunchtime service to find a similar feeling to yesterday, making the car less stiff in a bid to find more traction. The afternoon was a lot cleaner as a result with some improved times. Hayden has been pushing, so we have done the same to try and defend our third place. There is an almost ten-second time deficit to Craig, with three stages left on Sunday, but we’ll give it a good go. It’s not impossible.”

Crew Notes: Paddon/Marshall (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Patient start to the day paid dividends with competitive afternoon loop
Fourth place overall helps set Hyundai Motorsport up for strong finish on Sunday

Paddon said: “Not quite the day we wanted but we are still enjoying ourselves and doing the best we can. We started the morning loop knowing that we would be playing a waiting game. The way that the car has been set up for my driving meant we had to find a compromise between my own confidence and the outright performance in those first stages. The wider lines on the roads in the afternoon played more to my strengths, so we had to be patient and wait for the stages to come to us. We were definitely more comfortable to push in the repeat loop. It was fantastic to see so many fans enjoying the stages, especially through Colin’s Crest. Unfortunately, we lost a little time stuck in a snow bank on the final stage, but we are still in a good position to push on tomorrow.

Eyes on the prize

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “We head into Saturday evening in a very competitive position with Thierry leading, Andreas in third and Hayden just behind in fourth. I wouldn’t say we are in a comfortable situation because, as we know too well, anything can happen on the final day of a rally. However, I think we are giving a good account of ourselves here and I’m pleased with how things have gone today. Of course, there have been a few issues. The same is true for almost everybody but I think we have seen a representative performance from the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC and from our three crews. I’m eager to see what we can deliver in the final stages of the rally. The gap to second is not insurmountable. It’s going to be exciting for the fans, and most likely nerve-wracking for us!”

Sunday’s itinerary at a glance
Three stages remain on Rally Sweden’s 19-stage itinerary, a total of just 51.94km
Two runs of the 21.19km Likenäs test will be followed by a repeat of the 9.56km Torsby stage, initially contested on Friday when Hyundai Motorsport registered a 1-2-3 finish
With each of the three stages spread out over the course of Sunday morning, it promises to be a tense finish to the rally.

Classification after Day Two

1-T. Neuville-N. Gilsoul-Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC – 2:23:23.8
2-C. Breen-S. Martin-Citroën C3 WRC +22.7
3-A. Mikkelsen-A. Jæger Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC – +32.0
4-H. Paddon-S. Marshall -Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC – +48.6
5-M. Østberg T. Eriksen Citroën C3 WRC +56.8
6-E. Lappi-J. Ferm-Toyota Yaris WRC – +1:05.8
7-J. M. Latvala-M. Anttila-Toyota Yaris WRC – +2:03.3
8-T. Suninen-M. Markkula-Ford Fiesta WRC – +2:20.5
9-O. Tänak-M. Järveoja-Toyota Yaris WRC – +3:41.3
10-S. Ogier-J. Ingrassia-Ford Fiesta WRC – +4:24.9






















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17 February 2018