Neuville reveals 2017 WRC title bid
Championship runner-up hopes for improvement in 2017
Drivers’ championship runner-up Thierry Neuville believes Hyundai’s new i20 Coupe WRC will carry him to more success next year and will put him firmly in contention for the 2017 title.
The Belgian was one of the stars of 2016, when he made a dramatic return to form after two seasons in the WRC doldrums. Victory at June’s Rally Italia Sardegna started an unbroken run of top-five finishes, and he rounded of the season with five consecutive podiums.
At today’s reveal of the i20 Coupe in Italy, Neuville said he was confident the new car would enable him to maintain his run of success.
“I have high hopes for our new Hyundai i20 Coupe," he said. "I am optimistic it will help us to continue our momentum in the competitive WRC. My initial impressions of the car in testing were very positive. The increase in power is incredible while the additional grip and driveability gives us more confidence to push.
"We had a very positive 2016 season, and I was delighted to finish the season second in the championship. Of course, from here there is only one place to go, and we want to be firmly in the fight for the title in 2017.”
Neuville’s team-mates Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon also revealed more about their hopes for Hyundai’s fourth season with the i20 model. All three will drive the new two-door car when it makes its competitive debut at next month’s Rallye Monte-Carlo.
Paddon claimed his maiden WRC win this year in Argentina and is aiming for more victories in 2017. “I want to start challenging for more rally wins and demonstrate more consistent speed throughout the year," he explained.
"The Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC is enjoyable to drive and I think it will be more exciting for the spectators too. I like that the cars will be more tuneable to each driver and driving style."
Sordo said he would wait until the season was underway before setting any targets, but the Spaniard admitted he felt good about the new car, built to the next generation world rally car regulations.
"With such a significant change, we will have to wait until the first rallies of the championship to see how things develop, but I am confident," he said.
"When I first tested the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, I was taken aback by the speed of the car. The more powerful engine and increased grip from the aerodynamics are impressive."
Sordo will drive a 2016-spec i20 at the Monza Rally Show later this week. He will go up against 21 other world rally cars in this year’s three-day event, including last year’s winner, Moto GP star Valentino Rossi, in a Ford Fiesta RS.
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