Hyundai Motorsport: Wales Rally GB Report

Hyundai Motorsport concluded a challenging Wales Rally GB, the 11th round of the 13-event 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), with its highest placed crew in fifth place
Thierry Neuville battled back from eighth overnight to finish the rally in the top-five, adding two extra points for fourth in the Power Stage
Andreas Mikkelsen registered three stage wins over the weekend to score a top-six result ahead of Hayden Paddon in seventh

8 October 2018 - Hyundai Motorsport has suffered a setback in its FIA World Rally Championship bid following a lacklustre performance at Wales Rally GB this weekend.

Thierry Neuville salvaged a fifth-place finish after dropping down the classification following an off on Saturday morning. His Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team colleagues Andreas Mikkelsen and Hayden Paddon completed the rally in sixth and seventh respectively with just four seconds separating all three crews.

Hyundai Motorsport has consequently lost ground to Toyota Gazoo Racing in the manufacturers’ fight, now holding a 20-point deficit. With two rounds of the 2018 WRC season remaining in Spain and Australia – and a maximum 86 points up for grabs – the title battle remains fierce.

Neuville continues to lead the drivers’ championship, albeit with a reduced seven-point advantage over Wales Rally GB winner Sébastien Ogier. Ott Tanak also remains firmly in the chase in third.

Sunday’s schedule included five stages, held over a distance of 55.64km. The 10km Elsi stage kicked off proceedings before crews were faced with the 14.76km Gwydir Power Stage, taking place earlier in the final day than usual. There was no opportunity for a practice run in the slippery conditions, so it was a leap into the unknown. Neuville set the fourth fastest time to add two extra points to his championship total.

A tyre fitting zone at Dolgarrog separated Sunday’s two loops with an additional run through Gwydir and two attempts at the shorter Great Orme Llandudno making up the schedule. All in all, Hyundai Motorsport is ready to regroup for the final rounds of the year, in a bid to finish the season on a high.

Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 
Retains lead of drivers’ championship over Sébastien Ogier and Ott Tanak
Two extra points scored for fourth place in Gwydir Power Stage

Neuville said: “We have given it everything this weekend. The mistake yesterday ended any chance of scoring a podium but we’ve pushed hard to reclaim a few lost positions. The championship is far from over. From a fan point of view, it’s getting exciting between me, Sébastien and Ott. I’d rather have a bigger lead than we have now, but we can’t dwell on what’s happened in recent rallies. We have to pick ourselves up and fight for overall victory in the final two rounds. It’s in our hands.”
Crew Notes: Mikkelsen/Jæger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 
Three stage wins over the weekend for the Norwegian crew
Mikkelsen struggled with illness which hampered his final day
Mikkelsen said: “After our positive performance on Saturday, we struggled again on the final stages today. It was really difficult to have a good stage. I was feeling really bad yesterday so I wasn’t able to watch any videos in preparation for today’s schedule. I didn’t know where to place the car, and we had a few moments as a result. Thankfully we were able to complete the rally but not in the sort of position we need to be finishing. We now need to concentrate on the last two rallies where we know we can be strong.”  

Crew Notes: Paddon/ Marshall (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 
Seventh place finish for the Anglo-Kiwi crew
Next event will be the season finale at Rally Australia

Paddon said: “There are some positives to take away from this weekend even if the result doesn’t do us justice. We took some fastest splits and top-three stage times on Saturday, and generally found comfort in the car. This morning’s stages were incredibly slippery. We couldn’t read the grip and the pace notes weren’t optimal. The second loop was better. With only 15 seconds between fourth and eighth, it was a close fight. We will now prepare for our final WRC event of the season in Australia, determined to finish the season on a high.”

Rescue mission 
Five stage wins for the team over the weekend
Hyundai Motorsport holds second in manufacturers’ standings

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “Our aim today was to salvage whatever we could from a difficult weekend. We came to this rally hoping to fight for a podium, or even the win, but it hasn’t transpired. We failed to get the correct set-up of the cars for this event. We made improvements during Friday afternoon, and things were better by Saturday but with Thierry’s issue we were too far behind. We have to accept the result, learn from the experience and move on. We have allowed ourselves to fall behind in the championship and we now have just two rallies remaining this season from which we can bounce back. It will be an uphill battle but we have to give it everything possible.” 

Next Rally
The FIA World Rally Championship moves onto the mixed surfaces of Rally de España later this month, for the penultimate round of the 2018 season
The rally takes place from 25-28 October with Hyundai Motorsport fielding a three-car line-up of Andreas Mikkelsen, Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo

Final Overall Classification – Wales Rally GB
1 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Ford Fiesta WRC 3:06:12.5
2 J.M Latvala M. Anttila Toyota Yaris WRC +10.6
3 E. Lappi J. Ferm Toyota Yaris WRC +35.1
4 C. Breen S. Martin Citroën C3 R5 +1:10.4
5 T. Neuville N. Gilsoul Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +1:14.4
6 A. Mikkelsen A. Jæger Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +1:15.9
7 H. Paddon S. Marshall Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +1:18.4
8 M. Østberg T. Eriksen Ford Fiesta WRC +1:21.6

2018 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers’ Standings (after round 11)
1 Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team 317
2 Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team 297
3 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 273
4 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 187

2018 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers’ Standings (after round 11)
1 T. Neuville 189
2 S. Ogier 182
3 O. Tanak 168
4 E. Lappi 104
5 J.M Latvala 98
6 A. Mikkelsen 83
7 D. Sordo 60
8 C. Breen 59
9 H. Paddon 55
10 T. Suninen 54