Hyundai Motorsport has taken an early advantage in Rally México

Hyundai Motorsport has taken an early advantage in Rally México

18.03.2023: ... the third round of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), with Esapekka Lappi holding a 5.3-second lead • After ten of 23 stages, the Finnish driver, alongside co-driver Janne Ferm, has taken five stage wins on a positive opening day for th





... the third round of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), with Esapekka Lappi holding a 5.3-second lead


•    After ten of 23 stages, the Finnish driver, alongside co-driver Janne Ferm, has taken five stage wins on a positive opening day for the team


•    Thierry Neuville completed the first day proper in fourth overall, two places ahead of Spaniard Dani Sordo, both drivers having demonstrated encouraging form on Friday’s gravel stages.
 

 



Hyundai Motorsport has enjoyed a spirited start to Rally México, the third round of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), with Esapekka Lappi holding the provisional lead by a margin of 5.3 seconds.
 


The Finn, alongside co-driver Janne Ferm, scored five stage wins on Friday to assert an early advantage in the gruelling gravel rally. Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe currently stand in fourth overall, having been one of the earlier crews to take to the hot Mexican stages, with Dani Sordo and Cándido Carrera in sixth.
 


Thursday’s Ceremonial Start was followed by the opening two timed tests of the 23-stage event, with two spectacular runs of the Street Stage GTO, held in darkness on the roads of Guanajuato. It was a typically colourful Mexican show with plenty of fanfare to get the rally – the first WRC event to be held in Mexico since 2020 - underway in style.
 


Friday’s itinerary saw an action-packed run of stages from the iconic El Chocolate (SS3/SS6, 29.07km) through Ortega (SS4/SS7, 15.71km) and Las Minas (SS5/SS8, 13.79km). Lappi took stage honours straight out of the gate with a strong performance on El Chocolate. He added to that success in Las Minas, heading into lunchtime service with a 1.4-second advantage.
 


The 30-minute break allowed crews the chance to modify their set-ups and make crucial tyre choices for the repeated loop. More fastest times followed for the Finns as they extended their lead throughout the afternoon. The day ended with the brand-new Las Dunas Superspecial (SSS9, 3.53km) and Distrito León Mx (SSS10, 1.30km) stages that demanded complete concentration.
 

With Lappi asserting his authority out front, his Belgian team-mates were not far behind on the stages, setting the second quickest times in SS8 and SS9 to remain in podium contention.



Sordo, unfortunately, picked up a puncture in SS7, having earlier been in touch with the podium contenders; the time loss dropped the Spaniards to sixth overall, losing around one minute. They rebounded quickly by setting stage winning pace in the final run of the day, the team’s sixth stage win out of eight.
 



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


•    Five stage wins for the Finns on Friday’s eight stages

•    The crew holds a 5.3-second lead over Sébastien Ogier

 


Lappi said: “This has probably been one of the best days of my career. I hoped that I could fight at the top but to be leading and fighting all the time against Séb was not in my mind. I was confident that our pace would be competitive, but I didn’t really give it much thought. This is a good car. We did a lot of work during Monte-Carlo and Sweden, as well as between those events.


We can now stop searching for the right set-up because I think we’ve found what I like, so I can just concentrate on the driving. You can then gain time here and there. I’ve been trying to keep it clean, close to the limit, have good acceleration out of the corners and just see at the end what times we have set. It’s been a positive start.”
 



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


•    Belgians fought strongly from an early road position to remain in podium contention

•    Second fastest times in SS8 and SS9 enabled two Hyundai stage 1-2s
 



Neuville said: “I think we expected more from the day, but we had a few situations that cost us some time. In the morning loop, in SS4, we had a hard compression on the car, hitting a bump that was not there in the recce, causing the loss of the hybrid. On this particular stage, at high altitude and with long straights, we lost a lot of time and that influenced our position.


I have been working on the car throughout the day; we had some concern with the driveshaft in the heat - the grease was gone - so we had to try and repair that between every stage. We also had a blocked rear right damper in SS8, which might have been related to the morning issue, but we were able to clear that. It could have cost us more, so we were fortunate to make it to the end. Ultimately, we are 20 seconds clear of Rovanperä and less than ten from Evans, so I think we’ve done a good job today.”    
 



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

•    Spaniards returned to the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid for first time since Monte-Carlo

•    Early podium pace hampered by puncture in SS7 that lost them valuable time
 


Sordo said: “In general, we were having a really nice day, and we had found a good feeling from the car until we lost our chances of a podium push in the afternoon loop when we picked up a puncture in SS7. I felt good at the start but then after the first few corners, the car started to slide too much from the rear when I came on the throttle.



I thought it was a diff problem; I couldn’t drive the first few kilometres, and I then realised I had a puncture. Before that, we’d been on the pace, but the problem now is when you have an issue on the first day you start closer to the front on Saturday, so we’ll have to keep pushing and try our best to regain something.”
 




Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul said:
“Overall, it has been a strong day for the team, securing six stage wins out of a possible eight. It was even more encouraging to do so in such iconic stages such as El Chocolate, which are incredibly testing for the crews and the cars. The results today have been a demonstration of the hard work and effort put in by the entire team, although it’s still early days.



We can be happy with this initial performance by Esapekka, who has done a great job to be ahead of Séb Ogier. Thierry, also, has done well despite an adverse starting position. Dani had a solid start, but we must understand what sent his car balance into the wrong direction this afternoon and try to recover tomorrow. There’s a very long way to go.”  
 





Saturday at a glance




•    Nine special stages will run on Saturday’s 126.52km itinerary, including a repeat of the Ibarrilla (SS11/SS15, 14.82km), El Mosquito (SS12/SS16, 22.56km) and Derramadero (SS13/SS17, 21.70km) loop


•    Following the opening trio of stages, the 3.53km Las Dunas Superspecial immediately precedes lunchtime service


•    Crews will repeat all four stages in the afternoon with the addition of the 1.30km Rock & Roll super special bringing the penultimate day to its conclusion.




Classification after Day One

 
1    E. Lappi     J. Ferm    Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid    1:25:12.0
2    S. Ogier    V. Landais    Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid    +5.3
3    E. Evans    S. Martin    Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid    +30.1
4    T. Neuville     M. Wydaeghe    Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid    +39.8
5    K. Rovanperä    J. Halttunen    Toyota GR Yaris Rally1    +59.7
6    D. Sordo    C. Carrera    Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid    +1:27.2


 
Andy Stobart    Nicoletta Russo- photos Hyundai
 


Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/hyundai-motorsport-early-advantage-rally-mexico---248681.html

18.03.2023 / MaP

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