- Hyundai Motorsport has finished Rally de España, the penultimate round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with two cars inside the top-five
- Thierry Neuville completed the 18-stage rally in fourth place after a broken rim in the Power Stage dropped him out of the podium positions
- Dani Sordo secured fifth place to help the team reduce the gap to Toyota in the manufacturers’ standings to 12 points.
- The fight for 2018 FIA WRC drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles will be settled at the season finale in Australia after an exhilarating Rally de España caused another shift in the championship battles.
The fight for 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles will be settled at the season finale in Australia in mid-November after an exhilarating Rally de España caused another shift in the championship battles.
Hyundai Motorsport completed a challenging Spanish rally in fourth and fifth positions after late drama prevented the team from scoring a podium result. Thierry Neuville finished just 0.5-seconds from third-placed Elfyn Evans as the Belgian picked up a broken rear-right rim in the Power Stage.
Dani Sordo finished fifth helping the team to close the gap in the thrilling manufacturers’ title fight. Hyundai Motorsport is now just 12 points behind leaders Toyota Gazoo Racing, but only 13 ahead of a resurgent M-Sport Ford, meaning the championship chase will go right down to the wire in Australia.
Neuville has been forced to relinquish the lead of the drivers’ table to Sébastien Ogier with just three points separating the duo heading to the season finale. With Ott Tanak 23 points adrift, it remains a three-way fight for this season’s title honours.
Fight to the finish
Sunday’s itinerary resulted in an exciting final day of action with four stages contested over 61.70km. A repeated loop of the 16.35km Riudecanyes and 14.50km Santa Marina routes separated by a mid-morning service offered plenty of opportunity and drama.
Hyundai Motorsport’s crews showed their fighting spirit by setting competitive stage times throughout the morning with home hero Sordo determined to remain in the podium battle, and Neuville doing all he could to defend his championship lead.
Overnight rain offered a critical tyre selection on the first pass with Hyundai Motorsport opting for the safer soft compound options. In increasingly dry stages, however, the repeat loop afforded a more straightforward choice. The victory chase went right down to the wire, the rally concluding Santa Marina Power Stage, with an intense duel between the two Sébastiens Loeb and Ogier.
Scoring four stages wins over the weekend across each of its three crews, Hyundai Motorsport was able to demonstrate competitive performances with its Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC on both gravel and tarmac. All eyes now move onto the final round of the season, Rally Australia, which was won last year by Thierry Neuville, heading a Hyundai Motorsport 1-3.
Still in the game
- Championship battles will be settled only after the Power Stage in Australia
- Stage wins across all three crews shows potential of i20 Coupe WRC in Spain
That was a very intense and highly competitive rally for all manufacturers and most crews. The level was incredible and the final results were only settled in the Power Stage, offering an exciting finale for the fans. Naturally we are disappointed that Thierry picked up a broken rim that stopped him from taking home a podium. It would have capped off a remarkable comeback weekend after his struggles on Friday but these things happen. We have seen a change in the drivers’ lead with Sébastien now in front, but at least that means Thierry won’t be opening the road in Australia. With Dani finishing fifth, we have also managed to reduce the gap to Toyota in the manufacturers’ championship. That means, as always seemed to be the case, the fight will be settled at the final round of the season. Rest assured, we will give it all we’ve got!Michel NandanTeam Principal
The final showdown
- The 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) will conclude with Rally Australia from November 15-18
- One final gravel event will decide both drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles in what has been one of the most hotly contested WRC seasons for many years.