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|