HYUNDAI CAN IM­PROVE i20

Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

Thierry Neuville is con­fi­dent there is more to come from Hyundai’s all-new i20 WRC on next month’s Rally Swe­den fol­low­ing its de­but podium in Monte Carlo last week.

Neuville ended the event in third place, al­though he was two min­utes down on rally win­ner Se­bastien Ogier – with much of that time loss com­ing on a dis­as­trous start for the team. The i20s were run­ning too soft on Thurs­day and Fri­day, rob­bing the driv­ers of con­fi­dence.

Neuville said: “We can­not say we are on fire when we are two min­utes be­hind the win­ner, but we are learn­ing more and we are im­prov­ing the car. We are still miss­ing mileage and knowl­edge but, with ev­ery kilo­me­tre, this is get­ting bet­ter.”

The Bel­gian, who set two fastest times on Satur­day, said he wasn’t wor­ried about the lack of pace on Fri­day and pointed at Swe­den as a more re­al­is­tic bench­mark for the pace of the new car.

“I knew about the set­tings, I knew I wasn’t con­fi­dent and I knew I was still learn­ing,” he said. “We should be quicker in Swe­den with the rhythm. We have a good ref­er­ence from last year and I hope we will be in the game from the be­gin­ning.”

Team prin­ci­pal Michel Nan­dan added: “Dur­ing the first days the car was not set-up for the con­di­tions. It was our mis­take. We should have done a full Tar­mac set­ting.”

Whole­sale changes on Fri­day night of­fered a marked im­prove­ment for the week­end.

“The car is bet­ter than the old one,” said Nan­dan. “There is no doubt about this. It’s dif­fi­cult to know how much closer be­cause of the con­di­tions and run­ning dif­fer­ent tyres and then, of course, in the end of the event Se­bastien [Ogier] was cruis­ing. In Swe­den we will know more about the speed from the car. It’s an event where you will prob­a­bly see how much we have closed the gap.”

Neuville man­aged a prob­lem with the cen­tre bear­ing on the car’s prop­shaft – which left him in front-wheel drive only for the fi­nal stage – to fin­ish third, en­sur­ing Hyundai ended the event joint top of the man­u­fac­tur­ers’ stand­ings.

Neuville scored a podium fin­ish

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