Press release by: Hyundai SA
A victory on the iced and snowed-under roads in Sweden and a second and fourth place in Rally Mexico has ensured that the Hyundai Motorsport team can tackle the 4th round of the World Rally Championship on the island Corsica this weekend as the leader in the competition.
Thierry Neuville and his co-driver, Nicolas Gilsoul, are second in the drivers’ and navigator’s championship after their successful outing in Sweden and a 6th place in Mexico, and they can add some more confidence from the fact that the Mediterranean island Corsica is a happy hunting ground for Hyundai.
“Tour de Corse offered one of our best results of 2017, but we know that this year’s contest, the first proper tarmac rally of the season, will present brand new challenges,” says Michel Nandan, team principal of Hyundai Motorsport.
“Last year we saw Thierry and Nicolas dominate the event to take our first victory of the season, with Dani (Sordo) in third place. We will be hoping to defend our rally-winning honours and to consolidate our lead in the WRC manufacturers’ championship. We have only a 12-point advantage in the manufacturers’ championship and we are under no illusions,” said Nandan.
“Tour de Corse will be another tough battle. The fight for the championship is tighter than ever this year and we’ve seen how quickly things can turn around.”
Long and winding roads
Run over twelve timed tests and including some of the longest individual stages of the season, the Corsican round of the WRC is a uniquely demanding rally. Among the most daunting routes will be Friday’s 49,03 km La Porta-Valle di Rostino, Saturday’s 35,61 km run through Cagnano-Pino-Canari, and the monster 55,17 km Vero-Sarrola-Carcopino held on Sunday morning.
“As a crew you never really get a break,” explains Andreas Mikkelsen. “It’s a continuous corner-to-corner challenge that is equally tough on the car as it is on the driver and co-driver.” Mikkelsen and his fellow Norwegian and co-driver, Anders Jaeger, will be looking to score their second podium of the season, following third place in Sweden. Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio have the same goal, having taken a strong second place at the last round in Mexico.
Hitting the right notes
“I hope we can continue with this level of performance as we move onto the Corsican tarmac,” commented Sordo. “It’s a very physical event. Precise pace notes are crucial for a good performance.”
Neuville heads to Corsica second in the drivers’ championship, just four points behind leader Sébastien Ogier. He is determined to keep the pressure on despite going off, unharmed, during the final afternoon of testing. “Tour de Corse is one of my personal highlights of the season,” said Neuville. “We had an accident towards the end of the pre-event test, but that won’t change our approach to this rally. We know it will be a close contest but we’re determined to strengthen our position in both championships.”