Hyundai Motorsport has claimed its ninth podium finish of the 2018 World Rally Championship (WRC) on a dramatic final day at Rallye Deutschland, the ninth round of the season.

Belgians Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul took the runners-up position on a thrilling Sunday morning, which included two runs through the 29.07km Grafschaft stage, and the rally-ending Power Stage at Bosenberg.
 
The result sees Neuville increase his lead at the top of the drivers’ championship to 23 points over Sébastien Ogier but with Ott Tanak closing the gap to second place following his victory in Germany.

Hyundai Motorsport’s home event offered plenty of action throughout the weekend, and the final morning was certainly no different with many leading contenders retiring from the rally - including Spaniards Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio.

Going off into the vineyards in the opening Grafschaft stage, the time loss dropped the crew from second to seventh. However, the damage sustained to their Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC prevented them from continuing any further. As a result, Norwegians Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jæger inherited the team’s second points-scoring position in sixth place.

The allocation of points sees Hyundai Motorsport continue to lead the manufacturers’ championship but with a reduced 13-point gap over Toyota, who moves ahead of M-Sport Ford into second with four rallies remaining this season.

Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

  • Stage win in SS16 Grafschaft 1, moved up to second place overall
  • Sixth podium of 2018 and one Power Stage point increased drivers’ championship lead


Neuville said: “It has been a challenging weekend so to come away with second is a job well done. I have been able to increase my lead in the drivers’ championship slightly, which was the objective. I was hoping to take a few more points in the Power Stage but unfortunately I made a mistake and had to reverse, so I took it steady after that. We have struggled with confidence and pace, even if we have been consistent over the weekend. Not an easy weekend but we’ve done what we needed. The championship battle is going to be closely fought right to the end of the season!”  
 
Crew Notes: Mikkelsen/Jæger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

  • Tough weekend on German tarmac for Norwegians
  • Sixth place picks up valuable points for the championship


Mikkelsen said: “This weekend has been one of experimentation with the car, trying to adapt the settings and my driving style to match the demands of these tarmac stages. We have found some things that have given us a positive feeling but there have also been things that worked less well. To get a top-six finish is not too bad considering. We didn’t take any risks at all in the Power Stage because these points are too important for the manufacturers’ championship. When you don’t feel completely comfortable, it’s easy to make a mistake when you push. We have a lot of homework to take away from this weekend, to prepare for the tarmac stages in Spain. For now, I am looking forward to getting back on gravel where I feel more confident with the car.”

Crew Notes: Sordo/Del Barrio (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

  • Spaniards started Sunday in second position
  • Incident in opening Grafschaft stage forced the crew’s retirement


Sordo said: “I am incredibly disappointed for the team and for myself. We had put ourselves into a strong position after Saturday’s stages and the car this morning - in the first kilometres - felt amazing with lots of grip. I had a lot of confidence. I was a bit late braking into a corner with some gravel in the road that sent us wide into the vineyards. The windscreen was completely smashed and there was some damage to the radiator. We tried to repair it but the temperatures were too high to continue. In any case, our rally was already over with the time lost in the stage. We take comfort from knowing we were able to fight for the podium. The speed was there, but the result this time was not. I can now only look forward to my home event in Catalunya in October.”  

Holding on at home

  • Ninth individual podium of 2018 for Hyundai Motorsport
  • Team holds reduced advantage in Manufacturers’ Championship, 13 ahead of Toyota

 
Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “I am pleased that we have been able to secure a podium result in our home rally in Germany. It was an eventful final morning, which unfortunately included a retirement for Dani and Carlos, ending their own podium charge. It was a pity for them after a strong weekend. Thierry and Nicolas were there to pick up the position with Andreas and Anders also moving up to sixth. It has not been the ideal weekend for us but it was not too bad. Second is a good result and even if we have lost some ground there is a lot more to come this season. We now shift focus to the next event in Turkey, a rally that will be new to everyone. It remains a challenging – and exciting – championship.”  
 
Next Rally - Turkey

  • The tenth round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship takes place in Turkey from 13-16 September
  • A gravel event, it will be Hyundai Motorsport’s first visit to the country, as Rally Turkey makes a return to the WRC for the first time since 2010
  • That said, the stages are completely new to all competitors as the WRC has never been to the region of Marmaris before – it’s a voyage into the unknown!

Final Overall Classification – Rallye Deutschland

1

O. Tänak

M. Järveoja

Toyota Yaris WRC

3:03:36.9

2

T. Neuville

N. Gilsoul

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

+39.2

3

E. Lappi

J. Ferm

Toyota Yaris WRC

+1:00.9

4

S. Ogier

J. Ingrassia

Ford Fiesta WRC

+1:34.5

5

T. Suninen

M. Markkula

Ford Fiesta WRC

+2:02.9

6

A. Mikkelsen

A. Jæger

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

+2:13.8

Hyundai Motorsport heads into the six-week break with clear intentions to refocus on its championship campaign after a tough weekend in Rallye Deutschland, the tenth round of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). Despite being a home rally for the Alzenau-based squad, and a happy hunting ground for results in the past three seasons, none of the team’s three crews have had cause for celebration this weekend.

Hayden Paddon and Seb Marshall were the highest placed Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team pair, down in eighth place. Dani Sordo and Marc Martí were put out of contention early on Friday morning after rolling down a bank, and forced to start again under Rally 2 on Saturday.

Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul also had to make use of Rally 2 to re-join on Sunday morning, after their rally was brought to a sudden halt on Saturday’s opening stage. All in all, It was an unrepresentative weekend for Hyundai Motorsport overall, although it ended on a positive as Sordo claimed Power Stage victory and five extra points towards his drivers’ championship total. That result saw Sordo take a total of five stage wins, equal with rally winner Ott Tanak.

Crew Notes: Paddon/Marshall (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Paddon and Marshall suffered two separate punctures over the weekend, which cost them time on Friday and Saturday. In their fifth event together, the crew continued to push and were rewarded with a handful of top-three times later in the rally, including second in Sunday’s SS20 (Losheim am See).

Paddon said: “When conditions were more consistent, we showed some improvement in performance compared to last year, so there are some positives to take away from this tough weekend. I knew this would be one of the hardest rallies of the season, so I am pleased that we made it to the end, and showing better stage times. I am going back home to NZ for a month, during which I will also take part in a few gravel rallies, so I am looking forward to that. Then, it’s back to Europe when we will begin our push for a good result to finish the season.”

Crew Notes: Sordo/Martí (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

For Sordo and Martí, their hopes of a third podium of the season were ruined after an off on Friday morning. However, the Spaniards showed improved performance on Saturday, including three stage wins, and ending the rally with Power Stage victory on Sunday.

Sordo said: “This hasn’t been the rally we wanted at all so it was nice to end it with a win in the Power Stage. It shows what we might have been able to achieve without our problems this weekend. I am disappointed in myself for the mistake I made on Friday, which ended our hopes of a good result. I am sorry to the team for what happened, but we have tried to perform better in these past two days. Now, all I can do is look forward to my home event in Spain where I will be trying all I can to get back onto the podium – and plan to finish the season in the best way possible.”

Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Having moved into the podium positions at the end of Friday, it was a stark turnaround in fortunes for Neuville and Gilsoul on Saturday. Forced to restart on Sunday morning under Rally 2, the Belgians struggled for pace and saw their run of Power Stage points broken as well.

Neuville said: “We made too many small mistakes this morning and struggled with the handling of the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC. We didn’t have enough time in the car on Saturday to prepare ourselves in the best way for these final stages. It’s obviously a massive disappointment to come away with so little from a rally in which we were hoping to be at the front. The championship is not over. I will give everything to turn things around in the final three rounds of the season.”

Short trip home

Hyundai Motorsport will return to its factory in Alzenau to reflect and learn from a difficult home rally weekend.

Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “Not so much a weekend to forget, as a rally from which we must learn and bounce back. We thought we would be able to mount a stronger challenge in our home event, but for a number of different reasons we were just not able to do it. We know from other rallies this season that our Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC is competitive, so this result is hard to accept. As I said after our disappointing Saturday, it is not in our nature to give up without a fight, and that’s the mentality with which we will tackle the three remaining rallies. Dani’s victory in the Power Stage gives us a bit of lift as we head into the long break.”

Next Rally

The WRC takes a six-week break before returning for Rally de España, which takes place from 5-8 October. It will act as the 11th round of the 13-event 2017 season. The Spanish round of the championship is the only mixed surface rally of the season, tackling gravel and tarmac terrain.

Final Overall Classification - Rallye Deutschland

1 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Ford Fiesta WRC 2:57:31.7
2 A. Mikkelsen A. Jaeger Citroën C3 WRC +16.4
3 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Ford Fiesta WRC +30.4
4 J. Hänninen K. Lindström Toyota Yaris WRC +1:49.2
5 C. Breen S. Martin Citroën C3 WRC +2:01.5
6 E. Evans D. Barritt Ford Fiesta WRC +2:03.4
7 J.M. Latvala M. Anttila Toyota Yaris WRC +3:58.2
8 H. Paddon S. Marshall Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +4:32.4