Hyundai rally team out of luck at Monte-Carlo
The Hyundai Shell World Rally Team has suffered a disappointingly early end to its debut rally in the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) after both Hyundai i20 WRC cars retired from Rallye Monte-Carlo.
The team, however, remains positive about its first competitive stages on the World Rally stage following some encouraging performances and stage times in the challenging and unpredictable conditions.
Thierry Neuville and his co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul saw their MonteCarlo rally finish less than 7km into the opening stage after unexpected and treacherous icy conditions caught them out at a tight right-hand corner while they were on Michelin super-soft tyres.
The conditions took many drivers by surprise and resulted in a dramatic opening stage.
Unfortunately for Neuville and the team, who were showing impressive early pace, the damage sustained to the #7 Hyundai i20 WRC was too substantial to restart.
Dani Sordo and Marc Martí, piloting the #8 Hyundai i20 WRC car, made a promising start in the opening loop and they ended in third place overall. The team strategy paid dividends in the final stage of the opening loop as Sordo finished just eight seconds off the stage leader.
After the lunchtime service, Sordo embarked on the repeat loop of three stages with renewed vigour and claimed the second fastest stage time, but a technical issue stopped him on the roadside and the Spaniards were forced to retire from the rally.
Team principal Michel Nandan drew positive conclusions from Hyundai Motorsport’s debut WRC event.
‘‘Of course, this is a disappointing end for us in our debut rally but this is rally and these things can happen, so we must remain positive,’’ he said.
‘‘Hyundai Motorsport has only been in existence for one year. ‘‘We have completed 8000km with the Hyundai i20 WRCs in testing but Rallye Monte-Carlo was our first proper test and we are here to learn.
‘‘Monte Carlo is a special rally so it’s not easy to draw comparisons but generally speaking we showed that Hyundai is here to compete seriously.
‘‘We will learn from this experience and move onto Sweden in a positive manner.’’
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Dani Sordo and Marc Martí, piloting the #8 Hyundai i20 WRC car, made a promising start in the opening loop