With podiums from the past four gravel events, Hyundai Motorsport hopes it can extend its run at Rally Poland, the eighth round of the 2017 World Rally Championship (WRC)
Hyundai Motorsport will aim to continue its recent run of podium results as the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) moves to Poland for round eight of the 2017 season.
Having secured top-three finishes at every gravel event so far this year, including victories at Tour de Corse and Rally Argentina, hopes are high that the team can once again challenge at the front of the competitive WRC field.
The scene of two previous podiums, in 2014 for Thierry Neuville and in 2016 for Hayden Paddon, the team will be looking for another assured performance in this year’s event.
Despite claiming a podium last time out in Sardinia, and showing the rally-winning capabilities of the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, the team lost some ground to M-Sport in the close Championship battle. Efforts will therefore be refocused on securing a stronger combined team result.
Set against the backdrop of the picturesque Masurian Lake District region, the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally crews will need to be at their best to traverse the super-quick sandy roads of northern Poland.
Renowned for its rapid speeds and grassy sections, Rally Poland also sees plenty of rocky passages and stretches of limited visibility, meaning that crews will be put to the ultimate test.
First run in 1923, the Polish entry to the WRC Calendar is one of the oldest rallies in the world. It was included in the inaugural WRC Championship schedule in 1973, where only three entrants managed to cross the finish line. The crews will be hoping for a much higher success rate this time out.
More than one third of this year’s itinerary is new, meaning that accuracy of pace notes will be of paramount importance. The three Hyundai Motorsport crews of Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall, Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul and Dani Sordo/Marc Martí all tested in Lithuania this week in preparation for Rally Poland. With five different winners across the first seven events, it promises to be another competitive WRC weekend.
Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “From the hot coastal setting of Sardinia, we move onto the fastest rallies of the season – Poland and Finland – which will offer a brand new set of demands for our Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC. Poland is a rally at which we have always been quite competitive, with a podium in our debut season and again last year. We know our car is well suited to gravel but now will be the first true test at higher speeds. Our target is very much on the Championship battle, which is intensifying with each event. We need to ensure a strong team result at all rallies if we are to take the fight to M-Sport. That means we need to work with all three of our crews to help them to get the best out of their cars, and indeed themselves on each stage.”
Paddon/Marshall (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Paddon has demonstrated strong pace in recent gravel rallies, taking multiple stage wins in Portugal and leading in Sardinia for a large part of the event. Alongside co-driver Seb Marshall, the Kiwi will put his recent frustrations behind him and target his first podium of 2017 in Poland.
Paddon said: “Our performance in Sardinia showed exactly what we are capable of achieving. It was a shame to lose the lead in the way that we did, but we have to bounce back. I am determined to focus on the positives, of which there were many in the recent rallies. I have spent some time back in New Zealand in between the events, which was good to help refocus. Poland is definitely one of my favourite rallies. It’s one of the fastest of the year, and of course I love going as quick as I can! I think the car will suit the roads quite well. We’re looking forward to it and as always we’ll be giving it 100%.”