Hyundai still challenging after mixed fortunes on 2nd day at Wales Rally GB
Wales Rally GB
Hyundai Motorsport is still aiming for second in the Manufacturers’ Championship after mixed fortunes in difficult conditions on the penultimate day of Wales Rally GB and the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) as a whole.
After almost 140km of competition over nine special stages separated by 12 hours of heavy rain, Hyundai Shell World Rally team drivers Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon made progress in the difficult conditions to hold fifth and sixth. In the Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team, Thierry Neuville secured two stage wins before retiring when he damaged his roll cage after rolling his Hyundai i20 WRC on SS11.
Sordo (#7 Hyundai i20 WRC) is the lead Hyundai Motorsport driver and has enjoyed the day with a good feeling in the car despite the challenging conditions as he climbed as high as fourth place after SS9 (Gartheiniog 2). A minor transmission issue contributed to a stall and a subsequent collision with a bank in SS10 (Dyfi 2), dropping the Spaniard and co-driver Marc Martí back to sixth place. After a steady drive through the afternoon he finished the day in fifth, just 14 seconds from fourth place.
Sordo commented: “We had very slippery conditions this morning and although the car felt good, we had to be careful. We lost some time when we stalled the engine at a hairpin in SS10 (Dyfi 2) and more time when we hit a bank pushing hard to recover. I have enjoyed the stages today despite all the rain, mud and blind crests. I took it easier in the last two stages as it is difficult to see the road and all the standing water in the dark but it was fun to drive. Although we have some gaps to the leaders the fight is still not over as we have four stages left to run tomorrow so we will continue to push to the end.”
Paddon (#8 Hyundai i20 WRC) has maintained a steady pace all day in the difficult conditions. He clearly enjoyed the more consistent grip on the second pass through the stages with a third fastest time on SS9 and a good pace in the final two night stages. With co-driver John Kennard, the Kiwi pairing finished the day in a battling sixth place and will look to finish strong tomorrow.
Paddon commented: “It’s been a bit of a mixed day really in some tricky conditions. Third fastest, less than second from a stage win on SS9 was a high point as we got our feeling back. We were then nursing a gearbox selection issue during much of the afternoon. We were able to fix it in service for the last two stages so I was able to make the most of the extra grip on the second run. I love the dark so the night stages were a lot of fun. It’s not looking good for the Championship as it stands at the moment but anything can happen in these conditions so we will keep trying until the end of the Power Stage tomorrow.”
Neuville (#20 Hyundai i20 WRC) had a storming start to the day. Stage wins on both of the first two tests (SS7 Gartheiniog 1 and SS8 Dyfi 1) put the frustration of yesterday behind him. The Belgian and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul continued to push despite an issue on SS9 but had to retire at the end of the morning when they rolled the car and damaged the roll cage on SS11 Dyfnant 1.
Neuville said: “After the disappointment of yesterday we had a great start to the day. I found a good rhythm and the car was working well so our aim was to push as we got our speed back. It was nice to get two stage wins straight away. I lost some time on SS9 when I clipped a bank on a corner with a lot of standing water and knocked the tyre off the rim. It was the same in SS11 and on one corner exit I went early on the throttle and the car started to slide. We went wide and hit some tree logs on the side of the road, which rolled the car. The season has been up and down, sometimes with a lack of luck. On one side, I am happy to finish it as it was not the year we expected so we can only take it as an experience to do better next time. We can now focus on 2016 and reset completely.”
Hyundai Motorsport recognises the challenge it faces to claw back second place in the Manufacturers’ Championship after a season long battle with Citroën. Nobody in the team will give up on that challenge but with the difficult conditions that all teams have endured this weekend, anything can still happen over the four stages and 36.4km of the final day of the 2015 WRC season.
Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “It has been another challenging day for the team in the forests. Dani and Hayden have both driven steadily in the difficult conditions while Thierry showed us the pace that we all know he has with a strong performance and two stage wins this morning. Some minor issues and a roll from Thierry mean we haven’t made the progress we were aiming for today but that is rallying. Our current position is not enough to achieve our aim but we will all push to the end of the last stage tomorrow. Whatever happens, to have been in a season long fight for second is a great achievement for our team.”
Just four stages are left to run on Sunday. Two runs through Brenig at 10.64km, the second of which is the live Power Stage, sandwich 10.41km of Alwen and 4.74km around Great Orme.
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