Hyundai Motorsport team principal Michel Nandan has issued a rallying cry to the struggling German team, who have suffered a disastrous run at their home event following a disappointing result at Rally Finland last month.
Having finished only sixth and ninth at the previous round of the World Rally Championship in Jyväskylä, Rally Deutschland has seen the team based in Alzenau, only two hours away from the rally base, end up with only a single car in the Top 10, with Hayden Paddon currently holding eighth position.
Dani Sordo retired from fourth position early on Friday, while championship leader Thierry Neuville was forced out on Saturday’s opening stage with a broken upright.
“We have to admit that things have not gone to plan this weekend,” conceded Nandan. “We haven’t been performing as we expected to, nor at the level we know we can.
“In such situations, it is important to react strongly and quickly. There is not much we can do now to score big points here in Germany, so we have to focus on minimising the loss to our rivals. It will be important to keep calm on tomorrow’s stages and get all three crews to the finish.”
Neuville will return under Rally2 regulations tomorrow, and while he will restart with nearly an hour’s time deficit to title rival Sébastien Ogier, he is focused on securing the five bonus points available on the rally’s final stage.
“Thierry will be pushing for driver points in the Power Stage, which is understandable, while Hayden and Dani will want to finish our team’s home rally strongly. We will all keep persevering; it’s not in our nature to give up without a fight.”
The Belgian driver was left downbeat after his retirement, which would leave him potentially 15 points behind Ogier in the championship before considering powerstage results.
“To say that our retirement is a disappointment would be an understatement,” said Neuville. “We really wanted to get a good result this weekend, not only for our own championship efforts, but also for everyone in the team in our home event.”
He went on to explain the failure in detail, explaining how the vertical gap between the tough concrete surface of the Panzerplatte Superspecial and the muddy verge contributed to the upright failure.
“In SS9, we went into a cut in the corner, hooked it with our left-rear wheel and damaged a suspension part. We weren’t able to fix it, so had no choice but to stop. The team has worked very hard, as always, to get the car ready for tomorrow, when we will give a big push to salvage some Power Stage points.
“Sure, it is a blow for the championship but anything can happen and I certainly don’t feel like it’s over yet. I am still confident we can do it.”