Historic Win in Rally Deutschland
The Hyundai Shell World Rally Team has today scored a sensational maiden victory in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)
In the team’s ninth WRC event, Thierry Neuville led team-mate Dani Sordo home for an historic 1-2 finish.
The team, run by Hyundai Motorsport from its factory in Alzenau, has only been in existence for about a year and a half so the result is even more poignant.
The script for the weekend’s rally was straight out of a fairy tale: from a major crash in shakedown on Thursday that threatened Neuville’s participation in the event and the mechanics working a remarkable 18 hour shift to fix the car in time for Friday morning’s start, to winning the team’s debut WRC event on Sunday afternoon.
It has been a dramatic rally, but one from which the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team has emerged victorious.
Neuville, in the no. 7 Hyundai i20
WRC with navigator Nicolas Gilsoul beside him, put the drama of shakedown firmly behind him when the stages got underway on Friday morning.
The Belgian did put not a foot wrong afterward and has determinedly made his way up through the classification since the opening day.
“I am really happy for the entire Hyundai Shell World Rally Team and everyone back at the factory in Alzenau. Everyone has worked so hard in the past year to get us to where we are this season so to celebrate my debut WRC win with them is very special. It is even better that we have a 1-2 in our home event,” said Neuville.
He also particularly thanked the team for their hard work over the weekend, particularly the fantastic job on the car repairs, which makes the result even more incredible.
Sordo, in the no. 8 Hyundai i20 WRC with navigator Marc Martí, also had a competitive rally in Germany, an event he won so memorably in 2013. The Spaniard, in his first WRC event since Argentina in May, got quickly reacquainted with the car and the team to post impressive stage times from the start of the rally.
“This is a great result for the whole team and a testament to all the people who work so hard in the team and at the factory. To get our first 1-2 is fantastic. Normally, I would prefer to be the one scoring the win but I am happy with second and I am pleased for Thierry. It has been a tough rally so we were focussed on getting to the finish safely,” said Sordo.
Team Principal Michel Nandan said that he could never have imagined coming to the rally, their ninth one, and that they would be celebrating such a great result, over and above the tough conditions that required everyone to be at the top of their game.
“The drivers have been on competitive form since the first stage and they thoroughly deserve this. To see Thierry take his first win and Dani on the podium is wonderful. We wanted to use this year as a learning year and we won’t let this result carry us away. However, we have made continuous progress and our Hyundai i20 WRC is improving all the time. We benefitted from the unfortunate retirement of other drivers today but we were genuinely fighting for the podium and that reflects the progress we have made as a team. For now, we will enjoy the moment and thank everyone for their support of our young team,” said Nandan.
Hyundai Motorsport’s WRC Journey so far:
September 2012: Hyundai’s announces return to WRC at Paris Motorshow
December 2012: Creation of Hyundai Motorsport GmbH
March 2013: Upgraded version of i20WRC presented at Geneva Motorshow
May 2013: First shakedown and first test with the i20 WRC
June 2013: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH Opening Ceremony
July 2013: First tests with the 2014-specification of the i20 WRC
January 2014: First rally participation (Rallye Monte-Carlo)
March 2014: First WRC podium (Rally Mexico)
April 2014: First WRC stage wins (Rally Portugal)
May 2014: Debut rally win for Hyundai i20 WRC (Rallye Antibes)
June 2014: First 1-2 stage wins for Hyundai i20 WRC (Rally Italia Sardegna)
July 2014: First 3-car finish for team and second podium (Rally Poland)
August 2014: Debut victory and 1-2 in Rallye Deutschland