Neuville Claims Record-Breaking 2nd Place For Hyundai Motorsport In WRC Rally Sweden
The Hyundai Motorsport team took to the WRC podium for the fourth time in its short history as Thierry Neuville stormed to second place in Rally Sweden, round two of the FIA World Rally Championship, in his Hyundai i20 WRC car.
The Hyundai Motorsport team stayed in the thick of the action from the outset of the 21 stage rally with Neuville firmly among the pace setters. Neuville took the first stage win of the season for the team on Friday and was placed second at the end of the opening day. He then added a further two stages wins in Saturday's SS15 (Fredriksberg 18,15 km) and SS18 (Vargäsen), jumping 44m to break the legendary Colin Crest Award record. The Belgian adopted a measured approach to Sunday morning's stages until the final Power Stage where 4,6 seconds separated the trio of contenders heading into the last 15,87 km stage.
This latest result keeps Hyundai Motorsport in second place with 55 points in the Manufacturer’s Championship. With two added Power Stage points, Thierry Neuville is now second in the Driver’s Championship with 30 points.
"What a rally this has been! We have not had such a close battle for the victory for a long time and it has been great to be a part of such a thrilling finale. Of course, I pushed hard to get the win, taking quite a few risks, and I could honestly not have done more. Second place is still a very nice result for me and for everyone in the Hyundai Motorsport team," said Neuville.
Driver of the no. 8 Hyundai i20 WRC car, Hayden Paddon took 5th place – his best result in the WRC and one place higher than his previous best with the Hyundai Motorsport team. Alongside co-driver John Kennard, Paddon adapted his driving style to optimise the capabilities of his Hyundai i20 WRC car and navigated the wintry Swedish stage, securing 10 manufacturer points for the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team.
Paddon commented: "It's been a good rally for us overall and very important to gain the experience in these demanding winter conditions. After finishing Friday's stages in sixth overall, we've looked at cementing that position and building up a buffer. I am pleased with how we have tackled this rally and the improvements we've made."
Making his Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team debut was Kevin Abbring in the no. 20 Hyundai i20 WRC car. The young Dutchman scored 11th place at Rally Sweden – a positive result for Abbring and co-driver Seb Marshall who braved Sweden’s unforgiving weather conditions.
According to Abbring, "I am really happy to have finished my first event in the Hyundai i20 WRC car. It has been an incredible experience and a real privilege to have tackled these tough Rally Sweden stages. They definitely demand respect. The team has been exceptional and have helped Seb and me to find our feet quickly."
Rally Sweden has been a victorious event for the Hyundai Motorsport team, with competitive performances from all three cars. It marks the fourth WRC event with a podium (Mexico, Poland and Germany 2014) and the first event of the season with a three-car finish. The team can also reflect on three stage wins this weekend, as well as leading the rally.
Team principal Michel Nandan commented: "This podium is a great result for everyone at Hyundai Motorsport. Our performance level has been encouraging although, at the same time, it is important for us to recognise that there is still a lot of work to do. Thierry has been on exceptional pace this weekend and this second place has been very well earned. Hayden has also registered his first top five finish with the team ¬– in his first WRC event of the season – a highly commendable result. Kevin has also exceeded our expectations here with a mature rally. He has kept his head down, worked hard and delivered a classified finish. I would like to extend a huge thanks to the entire team, both in Sweden and back at Alzenau. It's not been a straightforward rally and they have shown immense professionalism of which we can all be very proud."
S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC)
T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +6.4
A. Mikkelsen / O. Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 39.8
O. Tanak / R. Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:26.0
H. Paddon / J. Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:31.5
E. Evans / D. Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:53.0
K. Meeke / P. Nagle (Citroe?n DS3 WRC) +4:05.8
M. Prokop / J. Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:26.0
Y. Protasov / P. Cherepin (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +5:32.2
M. Østberg / J. Andersson (Citroe?n DS3 WRC) +6:50.9
K. Abbring / S. Marshall (Hyundai i20 WRC) +7:55.6
2015 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers' Standings:
S. Ogier 53 points / T. Neuville 30 / A. Mikkelsen 30 / J.M. Latvala 19 / M. Østberg 14 / E. Evans 14 / O. Tanak 12 / H. Paddon 10 / K. Meeke 10 / D. Sordo 8 / M. Prokop 6 / S. Loeb 6
2015 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers' Standings:
Volkswagen Motorsport 68 points / Hyundai Motorsport 55 / M-Sport World Rally Team 32 / Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 20 / Volkswagen Motorsport II 15 / Jipocar Czech National Team 10 / Hyundai Motorsport N 1 / FWRT SRL 1
Hyundai Automotive South Africa, an entity of the Hyundai Motor Company, forms part of the Associated Motor Holdings group, which is a subsidiary of the Imperial Group. Information about Hyundai Automotive SA and its products is available at www.hyundai.co.za.