Hyundai Motorsport completed a successful debut weekend for the new generation i20 WRC on the Rallye Monte Carlo, the first round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship with Thierry Neuville taking a podium finish and Dani Sordo rounding out the top six the pair battled difficult conditions to compete the four day event.
Neuville had a strong weekend and was well in contention before the final day however the Belgian suffered transmission problems on the power stage which very nearly ruled him out of the event but the i20 WRC made t0 the end to secure a third place and his best result to date in Monte Carlo.
“That was a nerve-wracking end to our Rallye Monte-Carlo. We started to experience transmission problems before the Power Stage, which meant we were running 2WD only.” said Neuville. “It wasn’t easy but we only lost one minute of time so our podium was safe – and that was the objective all morning! We can be very pleased with our weekend. The New Generation i20 WRC has shown its potential and it is good to be back on the podium, particularly after the difficulties we had at the end of last season. To register the first stage wins and now first podium with the new car is a great feeling and this result is for the whole team.”
Dani Sordo had a mixed weekend, the Spaniard struggled with lack of confidence in the car from the beginning of the event and by the end of Saturday’s stages Sordo was seventh over ten minutes off leader Ogier. However things picked up on the final day finishing second fastest on three remaining stages.
“From my point of view, the start of the weekend was not very easy and I struggled to find confidence in the car.” said Sordo, “Working with the team, we have improved the car from one loop of stages to the next and we could already see yesterday that we were heading in a good direction. I was very happy with the balance this morning and could set some good times, which have shown the performance potential of the car. We must continue working in this way but this result is a nice start to the season.”
Hayden Paddon contested Monte Carlo in an older generation i20 WRC in order to gain experience of the event. Contact with a tree on Friday forced him to retire from the day’s action. The New Zealander would eventually finish 25th overall.
“It has been a positive, character-building weekend for me.” said the Kiwi, “We knew coming to Monte for the first time would be tough, and we approached the event realising we had lots to learn. Some of the stages were harder than others, but I have thoroughly enjoyed tackling Monte’s iconic stages and we were able to have some fun along the way. We’ve learned a lot and this morning’s final stages were a continuation of our learning curve.”
The next round of the WRC is Rally Sweden which kicks off on February 12.