Hyundai Motorsport Rallye Monte-Carlo Day 3 review and quotes

21.01.2023: • Hyundai Motorsport has demonstrated stage-leading pace on the penultimate day of Rallye Monte-Carlo, the opening round of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) • Thierry Neuville claimed two fastest times on Saturday’s afternoon loop to exten


•    Hyundai Motorsport has demonstrated stage-leading pace on the penultimate day of Rallye Monte-Carlo, the opening round of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)


•    Thierry Neuville claimed two fastest times on Saturday’s afternoon loop to extend his grasp on third place, a provisional podium position


•    Esapekka Lappi found improved form on his second full day of WRC action in the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid, while Dani Sordo was hampered by hybrid-related issues.
 

 



Hyundai Motorsport has demonstrated its intent to secure a podium finish in the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo, as Thierry Neuville strengthened his grip on third place with impressive runs on Saturday’s stages.


 
The Belgian, alongside co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe, secured the team’s first stage wins of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with an assured performance on the longest individual day of the event.
 


Starting with an early 6am service in Monaco, today’s itinerary covered a repeated loop of three tough stages in the Alpes-de-Haute Provence department in south-east France: Le Fugeret / Thorame-Haute (SS9/SS12, 16.80km), Malijai / Puimichel (SS10/SS13, 17.31km) and Ubraye / Entrevaux (SS11/SS14, 21.78km). Totalling 111.78km of special stages and a mammoth 575.45km of liaison distance, Saturday proved a long and gruelling penultimate day, ending with an exhilarating final run in the darkness.
 


Like Friday’s timetable, there was no opportunity for midday service in between the two loops, with a refuel, regroup, and tyre fitting zone at Puget-Théniers the only opportunity for crews to take stock. There were signs of encouragement, as well as moments of frustration for the three Hyundai crews.
 


Holding third place overnight, Neuville and Wydaeghe found improvements in their set-up and performance to strengthen their provisional podium position. The pair set consistently strong pace across the two loops and claimed the team’s first stage wins of the season with a determined push in SS12 and SS13.
 


Dani Sordo and Cándido Carrera’s struggles extended into the penultimate day. The crew lacked confidence in the car, but intermittent hybrid issues adding to their woes. They completed the day in seventh overall, ahead of their team-mates Esapekka Lappi and co-driver Janne Ferm.
 


The target for the Finns, on their debut WRC event with the team, was to build on the positive signs shown on the opening days. The pair made a further step forward and were visibly more comfortable in their new car, scoring top-five stage times in SS10 and SS13. Unfortunately, a right-rear puncture on the first stage of the afternoon loop, SS12, lost them 20 seconds of time and kept them in eighth overall.
 






Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (#11 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)

•    Stage wins in SS12 and SS13 showed the might of the Belgian crew

•    Second place in the night-time stage extended their advantage over fourth to 24.5 seconds
 


Neuville said
: “I think we have improved; we have been capable of setting some good times. We are still in third and it has required a bit of a push on today’s stages. We gave a lot on both loops and there wasn’t much more we could do. We’re now 16 seconds behind Kalle.


I don’t think we can catch him on pure speed, I think we are a bit below, but we are going to continue to try, nonetheless. Essentially, the car has been moving too much in the dry conditions. Tomorrow, we will have another run of Col de Turini, this time in daylight; it’s going to be fun!”
 






Crew Notes: Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (#6 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)


•    Another difficult day for the Spanish pair on Monte’s tarmac roads


•    Intermittent hybrid issues added to their challenges
 


Sordo said:
“We have had some issues with the hybrid system today, but I am realistic enough to know we have generally not been on the pace we wanted to be this weekend. We have tried to make some changes to find improvements, but we haven’t found anything yet to unlock the solution.


I haven’t had the feeling I need to get the confidence for these stages. I was hoping to be more on the top, but we haven’t been, which is disappointing. Hopefully, tomorrow might bring something different but we’ll have to wait and see.”
 




Crew Notes: Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (#4 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)


•    Top-five stage times underscored the crew’s progress in the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid

•    SS12 puncture cost 20 seconds, but they stayed in eighth overall
 



Lappi said:
“A much more positive day. We managed to find some settings overnight that were better for me. Like I said before, it didn’t feel bad, but the times were not there. Today, I started driving the same way as on Friday, but the car told me I could go faster, and it was safer to push harder.


That’s why the times suddenly improved. We’re not winning stages or matching Thierry’s times, but we are way closer than before, which is a very promising direction. I still haven’t found the limit but there’s now much more potential. The objective is to keep improving from here.”
 




Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul said:
“Overall, it has been a day of mixed fortunes. Like yesterday, Thierry was fully committed to put himself in the hunt for a podium position with very clean driving and some fast times. He demonstrated his intent by securing his and the team’s first stage wins of the season – hopefully the first of many to come.


The gap ahead will be tough to close in normal conditions, but this is Monte, and anything can happen. We have been confident in our tyre strategy and been encouraged by the way that the car has reacted to set-up changes. This is a positive for the rest of the season.


Esapekka also made a step in the way we wanted to see; I have been more interested in seeing the evolution of his performance over the past days that than outright performance – it’s going in the right direction. Dani had a more difficult day and unfortunately suffered a failure of the hybrid system, which we will change this evening. We will do everything we can to give him a better platform from which to perform on the final day and rebuild his confidence.”
 




Sunday at a Glance




•    Four stages will complete the itinerary for the 2023 edition of Rallye Monte-Carlo, a repeat loop of two individual tests: Luceram / Lantosque (SS15/SS17, 18.82km) and La Bollène-Vésubie / Col de Turini (SS16/SS18, 15.12km)


•    Crews will revisit the iconic Col de Turini in daylight hours after Thursday evening’s run in the darkness, bringing an epic end to the rally’s 18-stages


•    Sunday’s schedule covers 67.88km of competitive distance, completing the 325km stage total from the four-day rally.
 




Classification after Day Three
 

1    S. Ogier    V. Landais    Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid    2:15:31.5
2    K. Rovanperä    J. Halttunen    Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid    +25.8
3    T. Neuville     M. Wydaeghe    Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid    +35.1
4    E. Evans    S. Martin    Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid    +57.6
5    O. Tänak    M. Järveoja    Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid    +1:20.8
6    T. Katsuta    A. Johnston    Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid    +2:05.8
7    D. Sordo     C. Carrera    Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid    +2:38.7
8    E. Lappi     J. Ferm    Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid    +2:59.1





 
Stefan Ph. Henrich    Nicoletta Russo- photos Hyundai


Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/hyundai-motorsport-rallye-monte-carlo-day3-review-quotes---246877.html

21.01.2023 / MaP

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