- Hyundai Motorsport extended its run of consecutive podium finishes in the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship with a third place finish in Rally Italia Sardegna
- Thierry Neuville closed the gap in the Drivers’ Championship with his fifth top-three finish of the season and continuing his unbroken run of Power Stage points
- Hayden Paddon and Dani Sordo both scored stage wins on the final day of action to take the team’s 2017 tally to 48 – the highest in any season to date after just seven rallies.
Hyundai Motorsport has salvaged a third-place podium finish in this weekend’s Rally Italia Sardegna, round seven of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), after a difficult weekend for the team.
All three of the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team crews showed the pace to compete for victory. Neuville and Sordo experienced car-related problems, which prevented them from capitalising on their potential, while Paddon twice crashed out.
After 19 special stages, including this morning’s repeated loop of the 14.06km Cala Flumini and 6.96km Sassari-Argentiera tests, Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul cemented third position, their fifth consecutive podium this season.
Dani Sordo and Marc Martí completed the rally as the second best placed Hyundai Motorsport crew, following an accident for Hayden Paddon and Seb Marshall in SS18 (Cala Flumini 2). The Kiwi and Briton crashed their #4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC at a right-hander, but were thankfully unharmed, although their rally was brought to a premature end.
It had been a more positive morning for Paddon up to that point, following a frustrating Saturday, as he claimed his second stage win of the weekend in the opening run through Cala Flumini.
Sordo maintained the team’s momentum into SS17 (Sassari-Argentiera) with his fourth stage win of the Sardinia event. Those results have taken Hyundai Motorsport’s total stage wins for 2017 to 48, the highest number for the team in any of its WRC seasons to date.
It also represented the second rally in a row in which all three Hyundai Motorsport crews scored stage wins, underpinning the feeling of what might have been this weekend without the various issues.
Both Sordo and Neuville added important Power Stage points to their drivers’ totals, finishing second and fourth respectively in the final stage of the rally.
Hyundai Motorsport has seen the gap to Manufacturers’ Championship leaders M-Sport increase to 40 points after more missed opportunities in Sardinia. Despite scoring more stage wins and showing strength across all three crews, the team can only take minimal consolation from a solitary podium this weekend.
We have to reflect on this rally with the realistic fact that we have lost ground to M-Sport in the Manufacturers’ Championship. Our congratulations to them, and to Ott Tanak for his debut WRC win. We just had too many issues this weekend, and missed the chance to assert our authority on the event, as we should have. All crews showed their potential with eight stage wins in total but it wasn’t to be. Of course, it’s frustrating but we have to learn from this and regroup for the next event in Poland. A podium is still a decent result and Thierry has closed the gap to Ogier by a few points in the Drivers’ Championship. The team has worked hard this weekend, so we will gladly take the consolatory podium, all things considered.
Preparing for Poland
WRC continues its run of gravel events onto Rally Poland later this month, round eight of the 13-rally Championship.
Taking place from 29 June to 2 July, the event will be run over 23 stages. It’s an event favoured by Hyundai Motorsport as the scene of podium finishes for Thierry Neuville in 2014, and Hayden Paddon last season.