Hyundai concludes competitive second season with final push in Wales
Wales Rally GB
Hyundai Motorsport has brought its second season in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) to a competitive conclusion with two cars registering top-five finishes in Wales Rally GB, the final round of 2015.
Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon both enjoyed trouble-free runs through Sunday’s four stages, to secure fourth and fifth places respectively at the end of the season-ending Brenig Power Stage. Both Hyundai Shell World Rally Team drivers gave everything they had in a bid to chase second place in the Manufacturers’ Championship.
Ultimately, the result was not quite enough to overhaul the Citroën World Rally Team for the runner-up spot a position that Hyundai Motorsport held for earlier in the season - as the team ended the season six points adrift in third place.
Wales Rally GB lived up to its reputation as a classic but tricky WRC round with inclement weather conditions making stages unpredictable and demanding for all drivers. Following the enforced retirements of Kevin Abbring on Friday and Thierry Neuville on Saturday, all eyes were on Sordo and Paddon to end Hyundai Motorsport’s second season in style.
Sordo (#7 Hyundai i20 WRC) and co-driver Marc Martí were focused on getting to the end of the rally after difficulties on Saturday morning had dropped them slightly down the order. A steady Sunday allowed the Spaniards to reclaim fourth place, their second consecutive top-four result after the podium in Rally de España.
Sordo commented: “We have had a good weekend overall, and I am quite happy with our performance here in Wales. Of course, we are disappointed not to have taken second in the Championship for the team but we could not have done any more. These Welsh stages are tough so we should be satisfied with how we’ve tackled the event. We didn’t want to take too many risks this morning but we knew that we had to control the pace and to be ready to capitalise if there were any issues. In the end, we were able to take fourth place and we should be pleased with that. We have had a positive second season and we would like to thank the team for all their hard work. The podium in Spain was a highlight, for sure, but I’ve enjoyed this weekend in Wales and we now look forward to next season.”
The objective for Paddon (#8 Hyundai i20 WRC) on the final morning was to build his advantage over local driver Elfyn Evans. The Kiwi and his co-driver John Kennard took fourth in SS16 (Brenig 1) and SS17 (Alwen), and third place in SS18 (Great Orme) to secure a fine fifth place.
Paddon said: “It’s been a difficult weekend but we got a good top-five result at the end. We knew heading into this final day that it would be difficult to take second place off Citroën and so it proved to be. I think we can be satisfied to have finished the season on a charge. These Welsh stages have been hard to read in terms of the grip levels and we’ve worked hard to improve from one day to the next. It’s been another valuable weekend and brings to an end a positive season for us. The podium in Sardinia was definitely a standout moment. We’d have liked a few more results like that but we’ve built good momentum during the year, which we will take forward to 2016. Thanks to everyone at Hyundai Motorsport for a job very well done this season.”
Hyundai Motorsport has made significant improvements in its second full WRC campaign, building on the firm foundations from the debut season. The team showed consistency and competitiveness throughout the season to establish itself as a legitimate challenger for second place, fighting right until the very end of Wales Rally GB.
Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “That was definitely an eventful rally and one which epitomises the challenge, excitement and unpredictability that the WRC offers fans around the world. Wales Rally GB is always tough and this weekend has reminded us just how challenging it can be. So, to finish in fourth and fifth is a highly commendable result. It wasn’t enough to overhaul Citroën in the classification but we did our best and fought until the end. For our second season in WRC against more experienced rivals, I think we can be pleased with what we have achieved. We have scored four podiums in three rallies and have finished in the top-five in all but one event. For me, this shows an improvement in our performance level and consistency. We have taken more stage wins this season and competed closer to the front-runners, while also approaching each rally with more self-belief and aggression. I’d like to thank the entire team and our drivers for their efforts throughout the season, and to all the Hyundai supporters around the world. The countdown to the 2016 season starts now!”
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