Hyundai Motorsport has extended its lead in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with a competitive double podium finish in the fifth round of the season, Rally Argentina.
Thierry Neuville claimed his third podium result of the season with a fine drive to second place, one year after claiming a nail-biting victory in Argentina. Finishing two places ahead of Sébastien Ogier, and taking maximum points in the Power Stage, the Belgian has been able to reduce the gap in the drivers’ championship to ten points.
Dani Sordo completed the 18-stage rally in third place overall, registering his second gravel podium of the season after finishing second in Mexico last month. The Spaniard moves up to fifth in the drivers’ table after a strong weekend.
Andreas Mikkelsen ensured all three Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team crews finished inside the top-five on the Argentinian gravel, pushing Ogier hard on the final morning but ultimately finishing behind the Frenchman in fifth. The Norwegian’s performance on the Power Stage added three points to his championship tally.
Three stages were run on Sunday, including two times through the hugely popular El Condor, with the route packed with thousands of fans, and the 22.41km Mina Clavero.
Hyundai Motorsport enjoyed a competitive final morning. Mikkelsen won SS16 (Copina-El Condor), leaving all three crews with stage victories in Argentina. Neuville increased the team’s stage wins to five in SS17 (Giulio Cesare-Mina Clavero), heading up a 1-2-3 lock out for the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC crews with Mikkelsen second and Sordo third. The second run up El Condor, which offered additional driver points as the Power Stage, saw Neuville take the squad’s sixth stage win of the weekend with Mikkelsen in third.
WRC Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
- Maximum points on the Power Stage secured second place
- Third podium of 2018 after victory in Sweden and third in Corsica
Neuville said: “I am thrilled to finish on the podium in Argentina and to have taken the Power Stage win. It has been something of a relief after the difficulties we had in Corsica, as we have been on the pace all weekend and felt completely comfortable with our Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC. The team has really done a great job for this rally and I am hugely thankful for everyone’s contribution. We knew we had to push on the Power Stage to take as many points as we could off Séb, and we were able to do that. I’m happy with what we take away from Argentina, and look forward to Portugal.”
WRC Crew Notes: Sordo/Del Barrio (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
- Second gravel podium of the season for the Spanish crew
- Consistent and competitive performance moves Sordo up to fifth in drivers’ standings
Sordo said: “What a fantastic rally this has been for the whole team. I am really happy to take my second podium of the season alongside Carlos, and to continue to show a competitive pace. The stage times have been very close all weekend long with lots of fighting for positions each day. Above all it has been a positive event for the team with a double podium that scores good manufacturer points. We didn’t take too many risks on this final day, concentrating on finishing third. Thankfully we had a decent buffer so could complete our mission to take the podium. We have had a huge support from the fans – we hope they enjoyed the show!”
WRC Crew Notes: Mikkelsen/Jæger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
- Strong stage times on Sunday, including stage win in SS16
- Three extra points for big push in Power Stage underpinned Norwegian crew’s pace
Mikkelsen said: “Firstly, I extend my congratulations to Thierry, Nicolas, Dani and Carlos for their podium results here in Argentina. From the team’s point of view, this was a very competitive weekend with all three cars inside the top-five. We had a positive final day with a stage win, a second place and three points from the Power Stage. Obviously, we would have liked to fight those couple of places higher up but unfortunately our time loss on Friday prevented us from doing that. It has been a very closely fought and tough weekend, which has been a pretty good start to the run of gravel events.”
A positive weekend
- Second double podium result of the season for Hyundai Motorsport after 1-3 in Sweden
- Second 1-2-3 stage lockout with all crews taking stage wins over the weekend
Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “A good result for our team, and I think that is the best we could have achieved. Congratulations to Ott and Toyota on a supreme victory. They were beyond anyone’s reach this weekend and thoroughly deserve this result. We set out to secure podium finishes with Thierry/Nicolas and Dani/Carlos, and the crews did everything we asked of them. The result has helped us to increase the manufacturers’ championship lead slightly but Argentina has been another reminder that the competition is incredibly close this season. I said after Corsica that I wanted a stronger all-round team performance. With all three crews inside the top-five, stage wins for all crews and our second double podium of the season, I would say it’s a job well done.”
- The WRC returns to Europe for the next gravel event, Rally de Portugal, from 17-20 May
- Hyundai Motorsport finished 2-3 in Portugal last season and will field a four-car entry into this year’s event with Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall returning to action
Final Overall Classification – Rally Argentina
|1||O. Tänak||M. Järveoja||Toyota Yaris WRC||3:43:28.9|
|2||T. Neuville||N. Gilsoul||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||+37.7|
|3||D. Sordo||C. del Barrio||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||+1:15.7|
|4||S. Ogier||J. Ingrassia||Ford Fiesta WRC||+1:58.6|
|5||A. Mikkelsen||A. Jæger||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||+2:02.6|
|6||E. Evans||D. Barritt||Ford Fiesta WRC||+3:06.3|
|7||K. Meeke||P. Nagle||Citroën C3 WRC||+3:25.7|
|8||E. Lappi||J. Ferm||Toyota Yaris WRC||+4:32.6|
|9||T. Suninen||M. Markkula||Ford Fiesta WRC||+5:38.6|
|10||P. Tidemand||J. Andersson||Škoda Fabia R5||+12:15.8|