Hyundai Motorsport’s quest for a first podium in Rally Finland is looking promising as Belgium’s Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul are in third place after Day 1 of the rally.
Neuville’s run of good form includes winning in Sardinia and a fourth place in Poland, so he’ll be looking to improve on Hyundai’s best-ever result in Finland in fourth. The Belgians will be looking to continue for that elusive first-ever Hyundai podium on Rally Finland.
New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon/John Kennard are in the top six in sixth place after the opening day, not far off Neuville in third. The Kiwi crew will be looking to make improvements on Day 2 in the second i20.
The last of the Hyundai i20’s is Kevin Abbring/Sebastian Marshall who were eleventh despite competing in their third-ever WRC rally. They replace the injured Dani Sordo who is not racing in Finland due to a back injury sustained in testing for Rally Finland.
Neuville said of Day 1 in Finland “It’s been a day of two halves, really. In this morning’s first loop, we were pushing to the maximum but we weren’t really seeing the results on the timesheets. The car felt OK but we just struggled to find any traction.
“This afternoon we took the same approach. We got everything we could out of the car and the results were a bit better. It seems the morning loop doesn’t suit our settings so we will have to be aggressive first thing tomorrow.
“Still, I am pleased we are holding third position at the end of this first day. We know how unforgiving the rally is, and there’s a long way to go, but we’re there or thereabouts. We’ll try to make some improvements to the car ahead of tomorrow’s stages.”
Paddon is looking to follow up a solid podium in Poland last time out by making improvements overnight to the i20, saying “It’s been a disappointing day but if you take the top two drivers out of the equation, we are not too far off. The morning was difficult. We tried to be aggressive but we struggled with the car on the loose and slippery conditions.
“We were sliding around and couldn’t stay in the lines. We tried to enjoy it a bit more in the afternoon but it’s hard when the times are not as we’d like them to be. Still, we will come back fighting tomorrow and aim to make up some positions.”
Abbring added “I’d summarise by saying it was a pretty satisfying day. There are little bits that we can improve in all areas but this is normal in our first ever event with the New Generation i20 WRC. We didn’t do Poland so it’s been tough to get up to these incredibly high speeds and to find the confidence to drive flat-out.
“The only real issue we had today was in SS8 (Mökkiperä) when I hit the front after a heavy compression. It seemed fine to begin with but by the penultimate stage of the day, we had some front right suspension damage so had to nurse the car back. Tomorrow’s another day – and I’m looking forward to it!”