Hyundai Motorsport has two cars running in the top seven overall heading into the final day of this weekend’s Rally de Portugal.
Matosinhos, Portugal – Hyundai Motorsport will head into the final three stages of this weekend’s Rally de Portugal with two cars running solidly in the top seven after a busy and demanding penultimate day.
The longest day of the rally has seen drivers tackle a total of six stages today over a combined distance of 165km. The itinerary has taken in the longest individual stage of the rally – the 37.67km Fridão stage – with tyre choice once again proving a decisive factor in performance.
Dani Sordo and co-driver Marc Marti (#8 Hyundai i20 WRC) continue to fight in the top six overall despite having difficult day trying to cope with the tricky stages of Rally de Portugal.
Sordo said: “We haven’t quite been able to find the same rhythm and speed as we could yesterday but, all things considered, it has not been a bad day. We lost a bit of time this morning, mainly as a result of our tyres not being optimum for the conditions. This has been the situation for everyone this weekend so we have kept pushing where we can and to get the best out of the car. It hasn’t been as rough as yesterday but we now have to prepare well for the final three stages tomorrow - with the famous Fafe stage where we have some previous experience - so we can resume our close fight with Hayden and Mads [Østberg] for the top six.”
Kiwi driver Hayden Paddon (#20 Hyundai i20 WRC) has continued his excellent rate of progress into Saturday, moving up to seventh place in the overall standings. Paddon and co-driver John Kennard set a string of top-six stage times throughout the day and are involved in a close battle for sixth.
Paddon said: “Overall, it’s been another pretty good day although we ran into some late drama when we hit a rock just 1km from the end of the final stage. We were fortunate to make it back to service. Looking at the day as a whole, we have been able to keep the same pace as we showed yesterday and it’s been pleasing to make up ground in the overall standings. Tyre tactics have kept things interesting but in hindsight there hasn’t really been a right or wrong choice. I struggled a bit at the end of the morning loop due to a lack of experience with crossed over tyres but apart from that we’ve just focused on each stage as it comes and we have three final stages tomorrow to bring the car home as strongly as we can.”
For the Belgian crew of Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul (#7 Hyundai i20 WRC), Saturday’s running was over almost as soon as it had begun. The duo hit trouble just two kilometres into the opening stage, rolling the car at a tight right-hander, which brought an early end to their day. They will resume the rally on Sunday morning under Rally 2 in order to gain more experience of these new stages.
Neuville said: “It has been a day to forget for me. I was too optimistic in the opening stage: as we approached a tight right-hand turn, we hit the outside wall and rolled the car. We were unable to continue. I am very sorry to the mechanics and to the team who have put a lot of motivation into getting things ready again for tomorrow. We will to re-join on Sunday morning so we can try to find a good rhythm and to get a feeling for the car on these stages. I’m hoping for a positive final day to what has been a tough rally for me so far. As we say, after the rain the sun will shine.”
It has been another learning day for the Hyundai Motorsport team on the new Rally de Portugal stages. With Sordo and Paddon involved in a close battle for sixth place, there is still plenty to fight for in the final three stages of the rally. Neuville will also re-join under Rally 2 to allow the team to pick up as much data and experience as possible in the concluding stages of this complex rally.
Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “Tyres have again been a big influence on performance today and we have learned a lot about the strategy required for this event. We have seen Hayden and Dani running well in today’s stages, setting decent times, although it is clear that there is room for improvement in our performance. Dani continues to keep hold of sixth place but it has become a close contest with Mads Østberg and Hayden.
The only negative of the day for Hayden was hitting a rock near the end of the final stage, thankfully, it didn’t cost him much time in the stage itself and he was able to make it back to service. Thierry has had a tough rally so far and his retirement this morning was a real shame for him and the team. He will bounce back and we hope he can use tomorrow’s stages to find a good rhythm.”
The legendary Fafe stage will be run twice on Sunday morning, once as the Power Stage, sandwiching the long 32.35km Vieira do Minho stage.
Overall Classification after Day Two
- J.M Latvala / M. Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:56:19.9
- S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +9.5
- K. Meeke / P. Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC) +20.0
- A. Mikkelsen / O. Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +21.1
- O. Tanak / R. Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:11.1
- D. Sordo / M. Martí (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:50.4
- H. Paddon / J. Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:01.0
- M. Østberg / J. Andersson (Citroën DS3 WRC) +2:05.0
- R. Kubica / M. Szczepaniak (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:06.9
- M. Prokop / J. Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +5:49.7