Hyundai Motorsport on podium course as Paddon maintains pressure in Poland
Hyundai Motorsport has two New Generation i20 WRC cars comfortably inside the top-four at the end of the penultimate day in Poland
Mikolajki, Poland - Hyundai Motorsport has strengthened its hold on a provisional podium position at the end of Saturday’s stages at Rally Poland, round seven of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship.
Hayden Paddon picked up from where he left off on Friday with another commanding performance in the #4 New Generation i20 WRC. The Kiwi holds third place and is on target for his third podium finish of the 2016 season.
Thierry Neuville’s strong run of form continued on Saturday as the Belgian moved up to fourth place in the #3 car, driving for the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team. Running second on the road due to his current championship position, Dani Sordo is pushing for a top-ten finish this weekend.
Saturday’s stages have seen drivers contest a repeat loop of three stages - Goldap, Stanczyki and Babki - run in a slightly different order on the second pass. With only a tyre-fitting zone at lunchtime, it was a long day for the teams and drivers, concluding with the Super Special at the Mikolajki Arena.
Having scored three stage wins on Friday, Paddon (#4 New Generation i20 WRC) and co-driver John Kennard kept up their momentum into Saturday. The Kiwis put in a string of top-five stage times to keep the gap to second-placed man Andreas Mikkelsen at just six seconds.
Paddon said: “Not a bad day. It’s still very close up front between me and Andreas, with Ott doing a good job a bit further ahead. I enjoyed this morning’s pass with some more nice stages before things got rougher in the afternoon. In the hot conditions, the car was moving about a bit in places but I was pleased with the improvements we’d made overnight. We were committed in the afternoon loop, and just concentrating on our own rally. We’ll prepare for a final podium push on tomorrow’s four stages. The rain that’s forecast could make things very interesting!”
Rally Italy Sardinia winner Neuville (#3 New Generation i20 WRC) has once again demonstrated his raw pace on the fast, technical Polish stages. Alongside co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul, the Belgian moved past Sébastien Ogier on the morning loop and now holds fourth place overall, with a reasonable time buffer to those behind him.
Neuville said: “We have had a positive day, moving up into fourth position overall. The morning wasn’t perfect. We struggled with the pace notes on the opening stage, and then had a small issue with the gear lever which cost us a couple of seconds in SS12 (Stanczyki). The ride height of the car was a bit low at the start of the afternoon loop, so we adjusted that and gave a big push in the second Babki stage. We have just tried to maintain our good rhythm, keeping smooth and fast. I have been quite pleased with my driving and with our performance so far this weekend.”
Sordo (#20 New Generation i20 WRC) and co-driver Marc Martí have remained composed as they look for a top-ten result this weekend. As current runner-up in the Drivers’ Championship, Sordo has been second in the starting order to tackle stages in the Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team car.
Sordo commented: “It’s been a difficult rally for me, but I’ve really enjoyed these stages again today. Our road position doesn’t help but this is the price we pay for being second in the championship, so it’s fine. There were some places where I lacked some confidence, and on these fast stages when you lift a bit, you lose a lot of time. In fact, you have to push a lot just to set a normal stage time. I’m trying to keep things clean and manage things sensibly. We have to take the positives, and I remain motivated.”
With two cars inside the top-four, Hyundai Motorsport is on course for its second podium finish at Rally Poland. Four stages are left to run on Sunday, and the team knows that nothing is certain until the end of the Power Stage on Sunday lunchtime.
Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “Poland is an incredibly fast rally, so it’s been fantastic to see our New Generation i20 WRC perform so strongly here. The rally is far from over though, so we can’t get complacent. The drivers have been very consistent this weekend, and have approached the rally with the right mentality. Hayden is keeping the pressure on the two guys in front of him, with Thierry just behind, so the battle for the podium will be fascinating on Sunday. Add in the possibility of some wet conditions and we have a tantalising final morning in store!”
Sunday’s itinerary takes in four stages of 60km - Baranowo (21.25km) and Sady (8.55km) will both run twice. The second run through Sady will be the Rally Poland Power Stage with more points up for grabs.
Overall Classification after Day Two
- O. Tanak / R. Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) 2:05:37.2
- A. Mikkelsen / A. Jaeger (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +21.3
- H. Paddon / J. Kennard (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +27.8
- T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +43.5
- J. M. Latvala / M. Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +1:04.5
- S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +1:08.1
- S. Lefebvre / G. Moreau (Citroën DS3 WRC) +1:21.2
- C. Breen / S. Martin (Citroën DS3 WRC) +1:33.2
- E. Camilli / B. Veillas (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:10.6
- M. Østberg / O. Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:14.9
- D. Sordo / M. Marti (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +2:27.6
Poland WRC: Tanak maintains lead through Saturday afternoon
Poland WRC: Tanak takes 18.6s lead into final two stages