- Hyundai Motorsport recently concluded its fourth season in WRC, finishing second overall, with Thierry Neuville winning four events along the way. Here are some highlights from 2017.
Rallye Monte-Carlo – 19-22 January 2017
Hyundai Motorsport started their 2017 campaign in the glamourous climes of Monaco for the Rallye Monte-Carlo last January. Despite debuting the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, built to meet revised technical regulations introduced for this year’s competition, the team made an inauspicious start to the season. Dani Sordo secured fourth place on the rally’s tarmac and snow surfaces, but Thierry Neuville could only manage 15th position, while Hayden Paddon retired early from the event.
Rally Sweden – 9-12 February
The Hyundai Motorsport team took to Scandinavia for the second event in the 2017 WRC calendar for the snowy stages of Rally Sweden in February. The second rally of the season saw a collective improvement in the drivers’ performances, with fourth-placed Dani Sordo again the star performer, while Hayden Paddon finished in seventh, and Thierry Neuville came in 13th position. However, it wasn’t all bad news for Neuville. After crashing out from the lead on Saturday evening, he salvaged three points in the Power Stage, as Paddon claimed the final Power Stage point.
Rally Mexico – 10-12 March
Rally Mexico features the gigantic Guanajuato stage, which stretches 80km and is the longest of the entire WRC season. The team had a successful weekend on the gravel, claiming its first podium finish of the season and 100th stage win overall, including six at this event. As in 2016, Thierry Neuville clinched third place; the Belgian finishing the rally in style with a Power Stage win to score five extra points. Hayden Paddon came fifth, while Dani Sordo was forced to settle for eighth after contesting 17 stages.
Tour de Corse – 7-9 April
Following Rally Mexico’s promising performance, Hyundai Motorsport’s hopes were high for the 2017 Tour de Corse, south of mainland France. The team didn’t disappoint on the tarmac, claiming its first victory of the 2017 WRC season in impressive style with a 1-3 result. Thierry Neuville picked up his third career win for Hyundai Motorsport, finishing 55 seconds ahead of his nearest challenger. Dani Sordo was pipped to second place by 1.3 seconds, but finished in third place to claim his first podium of the season. It was a decent weekend for Hayden Paddon too, with the Australian finishing sixth to round off a successful weekend for the team.
Rally Argentina – 28-30 April
Rally Argentina saw the Hyundai Motorsport team repeat their success in Corsica by becoming the first team to take repeat victories in 2017. Thierry Neuville was once again the victor, prevailing over the event’s 18 gravel stages and winning a thrilling Power Stage battle by just 0.7-seconds, one of the closest finishes in WRC history. Hayden Paddon again took sixth place, while Dani Sordo finished eighth overall.
Rally de Portugal – 19-21 May
Across 19 stages of gravel, the Hyundai Motorsport team had more reasons to cheer, with both Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo both claiming spots on the podium, finishing in second and third positions respectively. This was the sixth time in the team’s history where two crews had made it to the podium. Meanwhile, Neuville also took second place in the Power Stage, which concluded with the legendary Fafe jump, earning 22 points in total.
Rally Italia Sardegna – 8-11 June
The team took to the gravel of Italy at the beginning of June for Rally Italia Sardegna. Thierry Neuville landed on the podium for the fifth consecutive race by finishing in third place. He also picked up points by finishing fourth in the all-important Power Stage. Dani Sordo had to settle for 12th overall, despite an impressive second spot in the Power Stage. Unfortunately, Hayden Paddon twice crashed out of the event, but managed to score a stage win on the final day of action.
Rally Poland – 30 June – 2 July
Rally Poland, spread over 22 gravel stages, was the setting for the eighth round of the 2017 WRC season – and the Hyundai Motorsport team came away from the event with their best-ever result. Thierry Neuville performed impressively to secure his third victory of the season, while teammate Hayden Paddon came second, registering his first podium of the season. Dani Sordo finished within 30 seconds of the podium to ensure the three Hyundai i20 Coupe WRCs finished in the top four. The team’s 12 stage wins out of 22 was the most Hyundai Motorsport has ever won in a single event.
Rally Finland – 28-30 July
Hyundai Motorsport’s drivers endured a weekend of mixed fortunes on the gravel stages of Rally Finland, as none of the team’s three crews managed to make it on to the podium. However, by finishing in sixth place and picking up eight points, as well as three Power Stage points, Thierry Neuville took the lead of the Drivers’ Championship. Spaniard Dani Sordo came in ninth place, while Hayden Paddon endured a frustrating event and was forced to retire, but could take comfort in the fact he achieved a handful of top-six stage times under Rally 2 conditions on the Sunday morning.
Rallye Deutschland – 18-20 August
The Hyundai Motorsport team endured a challenging weekend on home turf at Rallye Deutschland. Hayden Paddon was the highest placed team driver, down in eighth place. Dani Sordo was put out of contention on the Friday morning after rolling down a bank, and was forced to start again under Rally 2 on Saturday. Thierry Neuville also had to make use of Rally 2 to re-join on Sunday Morning, after their rally was brought to a sudden halt on Saturday’s opening stage.
Rally de Catalunya – 6-8 October
The team endured more difficulties in Rally de España. Following a double retirement for Dani Sordo and Andreas Mikkelsen on the Saturday afternoon, Thierry Neuville suffered misfortune on the final morning. The Belgian was forced to stop at the end of SS16 (Santa Marina) after sustaining damage to the front right of his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC after cutting a corner. Sadly, the result meant that Hyundai Motorsport’s hopes of fighting for the FIA World Rally Championship Manufacturers’ title were effectively over as they were left 83 points behind with only 86 points still to play for.
Wales Rally GB – 27-29 October
Hyundai Motorsport experienced a much more positive time in Great Britain for Wales Rally GB, as the team secured second place in the Manufacturers’ Championship – its best ever result in WRC. Thierry Neuville made it onto the podium for the sixth time this season with a third-place finish, pipping teammate Hayden Paddon, who came fourth. The Belgian also picked up an additional Championship point for claiming the third fastest time in the rally-concluding Power Stage. Meanwhile, Dani Sordo ensured all three i20 WRCs completed the event inside the top-six with a steady run to sixth.
Rally Australia – 17-19 November
Australia is renowned for its sunny skies and sweeping coastlines, but during Rally Australia the Hyundai Motorsport team had to deal with torrential rain, which made for challenging circumstances. Standing water and unpredictable rainfall made some stages a lottery, and event organisers were forced to cancel the penultimate stage. Unfortunately, Andreas Mikkelsen completed his third rally with the team under Rally 2 conditions after retiring from the lead on the Saturday morning. However, the team concluded the season with its fourth victory of the year as Thierry Neuville battled through touch conditions to prevail as the winner and second place overall in the Drivers’ Championship. Hayden Paddon clinched third, registering his second podium finish of the season.