Hyundai Motorsport’s WRC drivers had a difficult start on the first full-day of Rally Mexico, with all of their three drivers having issues throughout the day but it is the newcomer Ott Tänak who is sitting fourth after the day has ended.
Tänak had a terrible run on the SS4 (Ortega 1) when he clipped a stone which made him to lose 30 seconds and damaged the rear suspension, he dropped down to eight place but recovered well to climb up to fourth place at the end of the day. He claimed three stage wins during the day.
“We’ve had a really bad day as a team. We lost a lot of time on the second stage, which dropped us back. I went wide and hit quite a big stone which damaged the rear suspension. We had some spare parts to fix it but not enough, so we had to limp to the end.” Tänak said.
“Thankfully, we didn’t lose too much time, but it made for a difficult Friday. Road position is crucial for tomorrow so I am pleased we could make up some places. Everything is still possible, but it’s certainly more complicated.”
Thierry Neuville was leading the rally after the two-opening stages on Thursday evening and took his third stage win at SS6 (Parque Bicentenario), at the afternoon yesterday he was in third position but he had to stop on SS9 (Las Minas) as he suffered an electrical failure on his Hyundai i20. The car will be repaired by the team overnight.
“We started the rally well, considering our starting position, and I felt we had a very good run on the opening stages. We pushed hard and got some good performance from the car. We still needed to find some rear grip, but we made some changes at lunchtime service to improve that.” Neuville said.
“We were still in the podium fight after the second run through El Chocolate. The following stage was cancelled but we were still focused. Unfortunately, something happened with the car in the repeat of Las Minas, which meant we had to stop mid-stage after about 5km. A very frustrating end to a tough day for the team. We hope we can re-join on Saturday, but the team needs to assess the car first.”
Dani Sordo is the third driver this season to take the wheel on the team’s third car, Rally Mexico is a no strange rally for him but already at the opening-stage of the day, he was suffering issues with the radiator and later had to retire the rally on the afternoon loop with a terminal engine overheating, he will not re-start the rally on Saturday.
“This was not how we envisaged our Rally México to turn out. We started this morning with high expectations but already in the El Chocolate stage we hit trouble when our radiator pipe came loose. I was driving normally, but clearly it wasn’t fixed tightly enough.” Sordo said.
“We made some repairs and tried to push hard on the following stages but unfortunately the damage to the engine forced us to stop in the afternoon loop. These things can happen; we are all human and we have to recover from this disappointment as a team. Of course, it’s hard to take when we had such big hopes for this event but that’s rallying sometimes.”
“If we look at our performance on the pure gravel stages, we have shown competitive pace in most of them, and taken many stage wins. We take away from Friday a fourth place for Ott and Martin, fighting for the podium positions, but also leaves a sense of regret for where they might have been without the small touch this morning.” Andrea Adamo, Team Principal, said.
“These things can happen in motorsport. What cannot happen are the problems we encountered with Dani and Thierry. We have to deeply analyse and understand what exactly has happened today. We are not in the rally for the statistics; we are here to win, and these things should not occur with a professional team with aspirations of a world championship.”
There will be a total of nine stages to be ran during Saturday, in a total of 133.74km, including two runs through the Super Special Stage again.