- Hyundai Motorsport has claimed its first podium finish of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) as Thierry Neuville clinched third in Rally México
- Hayden Paddon completed the rally in fifth place to score important Championship points
- Neuville won the Power Stage to take five extra points with Dani Sordo also scoring. Hyundai Motorsport took six stage wins in total in Mexico.
Hyundai Motorsport has opened its 2017 podium tally after Thierry Neuville completed Rally México in third position overall.
After disappointing results in Monte-Carlo and Sweden, in which they were forced to relinquish a commanding lead, the Belgian crew of Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul finally returned to the top-three after a solid weekend. They finished the rally in style with a Power Stage win and five extra points.
Back on the podium
The result marks Hyundai Motorsport’s 21st WRC podium in an event where the team also claimed its 100th stage win this weekend. It also heralds the team’s second podium in Mexico, repeating the feat from its debut season in 2014 when Neuville also scored third.
Hayden Paddon scored his first top-five result of the year while Dani Sordo was forced to settle for eighth after 17 contested stages. Fuel pressure issues hampered all three crews on Friday, which prevented them from mounting a stronger fight for the overall victory.
The final morning of the rally was far from straightforward with rain falling early on. A total of 54.90 competitive kilometres were run, with the 32.96km La Calera test followed by the 21.94km Derramadero Power Stage. Still, all Hyundai Motorsport crews completed the rally to pick up important points for both Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ Championships.
Pushing the reset button
Hyundai Motorsport hopes that today’s podium will be the start of even greater things to come this season after a character building start to 2017.
We have not had an easy weekend here in Mexico so I think we can be satisfied to take a podium finish and the Power Stage win. Thierry and Nicolas really deserved that. Unlike Monte and Sweden, where we clearly had the pace and reliability to win the rally, we’ve faced a few issues this weekend, which have prevented our crews from pushing for victory. We’ve worked through everything methodically as a team, but we need to review things carefully when we get back to the factory. It has been a useful learning weekend; not forgetting it’s our first event on gravel with our new car. The manufacturers battle is close this season; I remain confident we will find our rhythm and register our first win with the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC sooner rather than later. For now, we leave Mexico with lessons learned and concentrating on the upcoming events.
The WRC moves back to Europe for the fourth round of the season, and the tarmac tests of Tour de Corse, which moves to an earlier spring date. The rally will take place from 6-9 April, just six months after its 2016 event in which Hyundai Motorsport finished in second place.