Hyundai Motorsport picked up two more stage wins on the second day of Rally Australia, round ten of the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)
Coffs Harbour, Australia - The penultimate day of this weekend’s Rally Australia has delivered two more stage wins for the Hyundai Motorsport team as all three Hyundai i20 WRCs finished inside the top-eight with five stages left to run on Sunday.
Saturday’s itinerary has included two runs of the long Nambucca stage as well as both day and night runs of the shorter Valla stage, giving drivers a stern test of the dusty Australian terrain.
Hayden Paddon put in an impressive performance in the morning loop, comfortably setting the pace on the first run of the mighty 50.80km Nambucca stage before adding another win to his tally with a strong run on Valla 1 (7.94km). He ended the day fifth overall.
Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo have both given their all today, making improvements to their Hyundai i20 WRCs as the day has progressed. Neuville took third in the night stage to finish the day in seventh, six seconds ahead of Coffs Harbour rookie Sordo in eighth.
Hayden Paddon (#8 Hyundai i20 WRC)
Paddon, who is behind the wheel of the #8 Hyundai i20 WRC for this event, is in strong contention for another top-five finish this weekend. Currently holding fifth overall and with just 19.4 seconds separating him from the rally leader, anything can happen as Rally Australia enters its final day.
Paddon commented: “I’m pretty happy with how today has gone. I felt much more comfortable and confident in the car this morning and we resolved the issues we had yesterday afternoon. We made some set-up changes and I have been able to drive the car in the way I like. The second loop wasn’t ideal because we wore down the tyres too much in the long Nambucca stage and we lost around 10 seconds in the last 20km. Still, it’s been a good day. We’re fifth overall and, although it will be hard to catch the leaders on outright pace, we'll try to keep the pressure on.”
Thierry Neuville (#7 Hyundai i20 WRC)
Neuville has continued to make improvements over the course of the rally. A typically resilient performance today, which included third position on the Valla night stage, has seen the Belgian defend seventh place on the standings.
Neuville said: “I struggled a bit this morning with the conditions, as we were still cleaning the road. In the first long stage we were keeping up the pace of the cars in front until midway through where we lost about ten seconds in a poor section. We regained the rhythm towards the end and were able to push harder in the second stage. We made some changes to the car over lunchtime to improve the balance, particularly on the twisty parts, and we had a stronger afternoon. Conditions on the final stage were difficult but we made it through and have kept hold of seventh. There are a lot of kilometres to run tomorrow so we will keep fighting as hard as we can to defend our position.”
Dani Sordo (#20 Hyundai i20 WRC)
In his first ever attempt at today’s stages, Sordo has got up to speed quickly in the #20 Hyundai i20 WRC. Despite brake issues hampering progress on the morning loop, the Spaniard - representing the Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team in this event - remains comfortably inside the top-eight.
Sordo commented: “It has been another day of learning for me as I have never completed these stages before. The long Nambucca stage was very demanding especially since we had a problem with the rear brakes, which lost us a bit of time. In the afternoon, the car felt better and we had no problems. The night stage was hard because of the dust and I was disappointed to lose so much time. We knew it would be a tougher day for us so we have to be reasonably satisfied. We now look forward to tomorrow’s stages and will see if we can make up any positions.”
Five stages left to contest
The Hyundai Motorsport team will now aim to get all three cars to the finish of the rally and to pick up as many manufacturer points as possible to defend second place in the Championship. With five stages left to contest, there is still plenty to play for.
Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “Overall, I think it’s been a satisfying day for us. Although we have only had four stages, they have been very demanding and have tested all aspects of the car and driver combination. Hayden had a fantastic morning loop with two stage wins, which was great to see and helped him to reduce the gap to the leaders quite considerably. His afternoon was not as straightforward but he is still in a great position heading into the final day. Thierry has fought hard, as usual, and has defended his position on the overall classification. Dani has continued to learn about the Australian stages today and has approached the rally with real professionalism. I am sure there is more to come from all three drivers tomorrow, and, as a team, we will ensure the Hyundai i20 WRCs are as competitive as they can be for the final five stages.”
The final five stages of the rally will be held on Sunday, including two runs of the 21.95km Bucca Long and 9.23km Wedding Bells stages, and a solitary run of 6.40km Settles Road.
Overall Classification after Day Two
- S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:20:51.8
- K. Meeke / P. Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC) +0.3
- J.M Latvala / M. Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +2.6
- A. Mikkelsen / O. Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +9.1
- H. Paddon / J. Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +19.4
- O. Tanak / R. Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +39.1
- T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:03.9
- D. Sordo / M. Martí (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:10.2
- E. Evans / D. Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:15.1
- N. Al-Attiyah / M. Baumel (Ford Fiesta RRC) +8:30.4