- Hyundai Motorsport is aiming for its third consecutive podium finish in Rally Sweden, the second round of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)
- The team hopes to build on a positive performance at Rallye Monte-Carlo, in which it fought for victory with its new Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
- A three-crew line-up will see Hayden Paddon, Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo compete in cars #4, #5 and #6 respectively
- Hyundai Motorsport is ready to repeat its rally-leading pace from the opening round of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), as the team prepares to tackle round two, Rally Sweden, next week.
The Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC made an impressive debut in Monte-Carlo, with the team securing seven stage wins – including a dominant performance for Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul in the Power Stage. The Belgian crew had led the rally by one minute before an unfortunate incident on the penultimate day handed over control to eventual winner Sébastien Ogier.
Hyundai Motorsport is taking all the positives from Monte-Carlo forward as it aims for its third consecutive podium finish on the stages of Sweden and Norway next weekend. The team will again field a three-crew entry into the rally with Hayden Paddon returning in the #4 car, Neuville in the #5 and Dani Sordo, who finished fourth in Monte-Carlo, back in the #6.
Setting up for Sweden
On a typical Rally Sweden the set-up of the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC has to be transformed to cope with the lower temperatures and snowy terrain – the hallmarks of any classic Swedish rally!
Aerodynamics can be affected with crews using the snow banks to guide the car. Extra spare parts are brought to the event, as the aero parts cannot be reinforced due to homologation restrictions. The front of the car is also susceptible to picking up snow and ice, so air filters need added protection.
Specific studded Michelin tyres will be used, which requires the car’s differential to be set-up accordingly. The added engine power on the 2017-specification cars could cause tyre studs to loosen, which is another consideration. A good suspension is needed to tackle the big jumps, including the famous Colin’s Crest in the Vargåsen stage.
Although Rally Sweden is typically snowy, last year’s edition proved that nothing is guaranteed. Hyundai Motorsport had to abort plans for a pre-event test in December due to conditions but enjoyed near perfect weather in a post-Monte test with Neuville. After a pause due to a lack of snow, testing resumed this week with Paddon and Sordo on driving duties with the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC for one day each.
Hyundai Motorsport’s Kiwi crew of Paddon and Kennard put in an impressive display in Sweden last year. The duo claimed two stage wins on their way to second-place and are hopeful that they can produce a similarly strong performance when they take to this season’s stages.
Neuville and Gilsoul put in a Monte-Carlo masterclass in the opening rally of the 2017 until an unfortunate off ended their victory charge. Nonetheless, the Belgians are aiming to put that right in Sweden. Previous podium scorers in the event, having finished second in 2015, they are confident in their chances.
Having secured a solid fourth-place finish in Monte Carlo’s curtain raiser, Sordo and Martí are hopeful that they can find a better rhythm from their Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC in Sweden.
Rally Sweden 2017 at a Glance
Covering 18 stages over a competitive distance of 331.74km, Sweden is WRC’s only true winter rally. Almost 58 per cent of the stage composition is new compared to 2016, including Friday’s Hof-Finnskog test, which has never been used before. In a bid to enjoy more wintry conditions, the service park moves to a more northerly location in Torsby this season.
The event will get underway on Thursday with a super special stage at the Färjestad Trotting Course in Karlstad, a 1.9km stage popular with spectators, which will be repeated on Saturday evening. Friday’s itinerary will once again see crews cross over the border into Norway but a mid-leg service will be re-introduced instead of the previous Tyre Fitting Zone.
Saturday’s seven stages will feature two runs through Vargåsen with the Colin’s Crest Award, twice won previously by Hyundai Motorsport (2014/2015) up for grabs for the longest jump. Sunday’s live TV Power Stage finishes in the Torsby service park.