Brian Joss –
The Hyundai Motorsport team has the luxury of a short break before they set up camp in South America to contest Rally Argentina from April 23 in the fourth round of the World Rally Championship. This follows their hard-fought fifth place in Rally Mexico on March 8, retaining the second manufacturer’s spot in the 2015 championship.
All three Hyundai Motorsport crews have fought hard to complete the stern test of Rally Mexico with Dani Sordo claiming a fine top-five finish on Sunday March 8 in his no. 8 i20 WRC car. The manufacturer’s points that Sordo earned helped Hyundai Motorsport to a total of 75 points, and still in second place behind the 99 points of the Volkswagen Motorsport team.
The Hyundai Motorsport team took four stage wins in Rally Mexiko with Thierry Neuville claiming three fastest times as well as a Power Stage point in the final El Brinco stage on his way to an eighth overall finish, and Hayden Paddon concluded a valuable learning weekend with noticeable improvements during his first ever Rally Mexico.
Sordo, who was forced to miss Rally Sweden after sustaining injuries in a pre-event training accident, returned to rally action for one of the season’s physically most demanding events. Alongside co-driver Marc Martí, Sordo put in a heroic performance, claiming a stage win in Special Stage 13 (El Brinco) and scoring his best result of the season to date.
Sordo quote: “I have really enjoyed this weekend and being back with the team. I have felt at ease with the car and the performance was competitive on most of the stages. We were able to set some good times, including a stage win on Saturday, but we also had a few issues to contend with along the way – which is quite normal in this tough rally. “Physically, I have felt OK most of the time, but I started to feel some pain after the long Guanajuatito stage. To come away from this rally with a top-five result is very good and I look forward to building on this for Argentina.”
Thierry Neuville (no. 7 Hyundai i20 WRC) and Hayden Paddon (no. 20 Hyundai i20 WRC) both made the most of their restart under Rally 2 conditions to complete the event with no further issues.
Neuville, who was one of the fastest men on the opening day with two stage wins, fought back superbly from his Friday roll, to claim eighth place overall. He put in a particularly eye-catching performance in Sunday’s monster 55,82 km Guanajuatito stage, the longest stage of the rally. He then took a stage win in the SS20 Derramadero stage before finishing third in the final El Brinco stage to take an important Power Stage point.
Neuville commented: “Our objective today was to push to the maximum in the final stages. The long Guanajuatito stage was perfect; we had to manage the brakes but I took the jump flat out at 190 km/h and we set a good time. We then took a great stage win and third in the Power Stage to finish in eighth overall, so I am happy. Our stage wins, and strong performances in other stages, showed our potential. “Still, it is good for us to have a three car finish and keep our second place in the Championship considering the demands of this rally.”
Hayden Paddon (#20 Hyundai i20 WRC) and co-driver John Kennard have been on the back foot ever since a small off during Friday’s El Chocolate stage forced them to retire and re-join under Rally 2. The Kiwi crew were then first on the road on Saturday, which hampered any progress, but they made a clear step forward on Sunday as they improved their feeling in the car on Mexico’s unique stages.
Paddon said: “It’s been an eventful rally for us but I think there are plenty of positive things for us to take away. The car has been good.”
Team principal Michel Nandan said: “Dani did a good job in his first rally back from injury and showed a real determination to perform at the highest level. Fifth place is a good result and, with Thierry in eighth, gives us more manufacturer points. Thierry set some strong stage times this weekend, and this was perfectly highlighted with third in the Power Stage. We have a lot to be happy with, a lot still to work on but we hope that Rally Argentina will show another improvement in our overall team performance against tough opposition.”