Daniel Sordo scored his first podium of the season with a measured run to third, ensuring all three crews have now taken a top-three finish this season
Hyundai Motorsport has completed a hat-trick of podium finishes in the opening three rounds of this year’s FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with a strong third place finish for Dani Sordo at the conclusion of today’s two final stages.
Sunday has seen drivers tackle the daunting 80km Guanajuato stage - the longest stage of the season - as well as the 16.47km Agua Zarca Power Stage, making it a tougher the usual final day of action. There was no margin for error as both Sordo and Kiwi Hayden Paddon sought to secure their impressive top-five positions from Saturday.
Sordo ended the rally as the highest placed Hyundai Motorsport driver to claim his debut podium of the season - and his first since Rally de España in October. All three of the Hyundai Motorsport drivers crews now have a podium finish to their name this season following Thierry Neuville’s third place in Monte-Carlo and Paddon’s second position in Sweden.
Sordo (#4 New Generation i20 WRC) adopted a steady approach on the final morning - despite the pressure of the 80km Guanajuato run - and was rewarded with third place, a position he has held for most of the rally. It wasn’t always smooth running for the Spaniard and co-driver Marc Martí but they were regularly inside the top-three on the stages and kept focused in the face of the challenges that presented themselves.
Sordo said: “I am delighted to be on the podium here in Mexico and to take my first top-three finish of the season. This is a very tough and challenging rally, so we have had a few complications along the way, but I think this is the same for everybody. We just got on with our job and learned a lot about the performance of the New Generation i20 WRC in these conditions, which will be very helpful for the future. We ended Saturday with a relatively comfortable hold of third place so we knew we would have to take it easy on the long Guanajuato stage and in the Power Stage, just to bring the car home. We didn’t push and we can be happy with this result. It hasn’t been an easy rally for the team so it is nice to have the chance to celebrate a podium after all their hard work. We have some things we will learn from this weekend but overall we have a lot to be pleased with. We now look forward to Argentina with enthusiasm.”
Paddon and co-driver John Kennard (#20 New Generation i20 WRC) used their final morning in Mexico to continue building experience after a largely positive weekend. The Kiwi pair wanted a top-five finish and achieved that with fifth place - battling a few issues along the way. They ended the rally with a sublime run in the Power Stage to take an extra Championship point for third in the final stage.
Paddon commented: “It’s been an eventful rally and there hasn’t really been much time to take stock. Whether it’s been making the right tyre choice, dealing with suspension damage or just learning new stages with the New Generation i20 WRC, the Mexican stages have certainly kept us busy. There are definitely lots of positives to take away from the weekend, and we’re quite pleased to have met our pre-rally aims of finishing inside the top-five. We were all looking forward to this morning’s monster stage and it was a really interesting experience, how to look after the tyres and the brakes over 80km. In hindsight, we might have been able to push a bit more, but we wanted to keep hold of our fifth place so I’m happy with our job. We wanted to give a bit of a push in the Power Stage to try and take an extra point, so that was a nice consolation. The team is also to be commended for their efforts this weekend. It’s been a long, hard rally for everyone so it’s nice to leave here with Dani on the podium and two cars in the top-five.”
Team Principal Michel Nandan
Two years on from taking its first ever WRC podium in Mexico, Hyundai Motorsport has added another top-three result to its ever-increasing portfolio of results. The rigours of the Mexican stages have delivered stern but valuable tests for the New Generation i20 WRC in only its third WRC event.
Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “It is a good feeling to finish with two cars inside the top-five - and to score a hat-trick of podiums with Dani in third place. We have now seen each of our driver crews on the podium this year - and we’re only three events into the season. The results are good but they don’t necessarily tell the story of what has been an incredibly tough rally. We’ve had the longest stage of the season - the 80km run this morning - as well as tough conditions, which have really put the New Generation i20 WRC under pressure. We’ve learned a lot about the car this weekend with some room for improvement but a generally satisfactory performance. The cars have survived a difficult rally, which can only give us optimism for the rest of the season.
Well done to Dani and Marc for their fantastic podium, Hayden and John for their fifth place, and to the entire team for a professional job in the circumstances. Of course, it’s a shame that Thierry couldn’t complete the rally but he’s feeling determined to fight back in Argentina. We said we’d be able to evaluate the performance of our New Generation i20 WRC more accurately after the first three rounds, and with podiums in Monte-Carlo, Sweden and now Mexico, we have to target the top-three in all remaining events of the season. It’s an ambitious target but I think we’ve shown we have what it takes, even in the harshest of rallies.”
The fourth round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) will take place 21-24 April in Argentina.