Rally is a motorsport surrounded with excitement and danger. Racing through narrow icy roads going over 100mph in certain sections with trees or cliffs at each side requires the utmost precision and bravery, especially is your literally jumping over a blind crest flat on the gas.
Hyundai Motorsport has been rocking the rally scene with its purpose built i20 rally cars and team of skilled crew and drivers. Together they brought victory to the brand with their 3-car team led by Thierry Neuville finishing 1st, 3rd, and 5th overall in the standings on February 18, 2018. Such a great team result landed Hyundai in 1st for the Manufacturer’s championship standings against Toyota Gazoo Racing (2nd place) and Citroen Total Abu Dhabi in third.
The Rally event took place in Torsby, Sweden where Neuville, and co-driver Nicolas Gilson were performing amazingly all weekend by taking five of the team’s eight stage wins. Adopting an intelligent approach, the #5 crew never relinquished their advantage over their rivals and edged to the lead after Friday’s Svullrya Stage (SS3). Neuville set bar with a 19.8-seconds lead over runner up Citroen’s Craig Breen who battled for the silver against Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen/Ander Jaeger who won 3rd. This 3rd place finish was a great result as it placed Hyundai in two of the three podium positions to show the brands commitment to dependability and performance in motorsports.
Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Leader and top performing team has landed its seventh WRC Victory and first of the 2018 season. The five stage wins recorded along with its crew strategy brought about the team’s first ever win in Sweden. In a summary of the event Neuville said, “An incredible result! We had a disappointing start to the season in Monte-Carlo, but we didn’t let that get us down. We kept focused and targeted a strong result hers in Sweden. We knew the competition would be tough for the win but we came here with the objective to bounce back, and we did that perfectly. We didn’t expect to take the lead so early in the weekend, so we had to be clever to defend the gap at times, and then increase it when we could…. Thanks to everyone in the team. We have many people working tirelessly every day behind the scenes to give us a competitive car, one with which we can fight for victories like this. This is a Win for all of them; it’s been a fantastic weekend for us.”
Mikkelsen/Jaeger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Had a solid run for third place with no troubles and four power stage points. With their continued efforts they achieve their first podium on their fifth WRC event for Hyundai Motorsport. In review of the Sweden event Mikkelsen Said: “It is a fantastic feeling to be standing on the podium for the first time with Hyundai Motorsport. We have had a pretty solid weekend and enjoyed a clean final morning. I wanted to give a push in the power stage but it’s a fine line as we definitely didn’t want to risk our podium. In the end, we took three points and third place overall, which is very encouraging. More than that, it has been an excellent weekend for the team as a whole, and our congratulations go to Thierry and Nicolas on a tremendous result. It’s wonderful to be able to share in this success, and to see the team at the top of the championship, even at this early stage in the season.”
Paddon/Marshall (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Third team for Hyundai Motorsport had some trouble in this stage. They lost time in the power stage which dropped them to fifth overall. However, they continued the fight with two stage wins during the weekend and a lot of positives to take away. According Paddon in reviewing the results he said: “An annoying end to what had been a generally positive weekend for us. It was just a small mistake in the power stage, which stalled the car and lost us too much time to defend our fourth place. It is what it is. We’re not in the championship hunt this season so whether fourth or fifth doesn’t really matter greatly. We have plenty of positives to take away from the event and I am looking forward to continuing this trend in my next WRC event in Portugal. I’m happy to have been part of this competitive rally for the team and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel.”
In conclusion, the WRC Sweden Rally was a great success for Hyundai Motorsport with their debut victory and eighth WRC win and ninth double podium in the team’s history. Their next event will be in Mexico from March 8-11 which was where Hyundai finished twice on the podium in (2014/2017). According to team principal Michel Nandan, “Mexico will offer a completely different set of challenges, so the battle lines will be redrawn. For now, through, we’ll celebrate this victory, double podium and positive all-round team result.”