Hyundai Shell World Rally Team has started its seventh FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) event with a trouble-free opening day in Poland.
Mikolajki, Poland – The Hyundai Shell World Rally Team has completed the opening three stages for this weekend’s Rally Poland, round seven of the FIA World Rally Championship, in a positive manner with all three Hyundai i20 WRC cars safely through and in the top seven overall.
Thursday was busier than usual for everyone with a total of three stages - the ultra-fast 14.54km Milki stage, the 17.24km Kruklanki stage and the evening’s Super Special Stage at Mikolajki Arena – over a total distance of 34.28km.
Thierry Neuville (#7 Hyundai i20 WRC, co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul) was the first of the three Hyundai Shell WRT drivers to get underway in Poland, taking a cautious approach in the opening stage before finding confidence in the car on the tricky Polish roads and ending the day in sixth place overall.
Neuville: “I didn’t have a good rhythm in the first stage and it took me some time to adapt to the new settings that we have on the Hyundai i20 WRC for this rally. I wasn’t particularly comfortable at the beginning of SS1 but it was better towards the end. It was much better in SS2 and the times reflect that. The car is not 100% there yet but it’s been a reasonable start to what will be a busy and challenging rally. We have a long day tomorrow with stages in Poland and Lithuania, so there’s plenty more to come.”
Juho Hänninen (#8 Hyundai i20 WRC, co-driver Tomi Tuominen) is taking part in his second consecutive WRC event after Rally Italia Sardegna but the Finn will be hoping for better fortunes in Poland. He certainly got the weekend off to a flying start by posting the fastest time in SS2 to claim fourth place overall heading into Friday.
Hänninen: “We have had a good start to the rally in terms of times even if I feel that there is still room to improve my driving. The car has been fantastic and I could get into a rhythm. To claim another stage win is great but our focus is to get through the stages and to accumulate data and information for the team. It’s good to be driving here in Poland – and tomorrow also in Lithuania – and to have such great support.”
The Kiwi crew of Hayden Paddon and John Kennard (#20 Hyundai i20 WRC) entered their second event with the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team in good spirits after a productive Rally Italia Sardegna earlier in the month. They got Rally Poland off to a positive start with three hassle-free stages that sees them in seventh place ahead of Friday’s seven stages.
Paddon: “We took it calmly today and drove well within our limits. We learned a lot in Sardinia and we have tried to carry that knowledge over into this rally to close the gap to Thierry and Juho. I think we have achieved that today with three encouraging stages. The car has been working well and we have plenty more to come so it’s not too bad at all for a Thursday. We will sit down with the engineers this evening to plan tomorrow’s stages, which includes a remote service and four stages in Lithuania, which will be an enjoyable challenge for us.”
Team Principal Michel Nandan: “All three drivers – Thierry, Juho and Hayden – have started this first day of three stages with the correct approach and mentality. Some of these stages are fast and tricky so it required a sensible strategy. The Hyundai i20 WRC cars have performed within our expectations and we have not encountered any issues. It’s nice to see Juho take a stage win in SS2 but more importantly we have all three cars through the first day and lots more to learn and achieve tomorrow.”