Hyundai Motorsport Driver development Program crew Chewon Lim and Martijn Wydaeghe enjoyed one of their strongest performances of the year at the Rally Nova Gorica. However, an unlucky sequence of events left them unable to collect the result their pace deserved.
In preparation for the weekend Lim and his Belgian co-driver took advantage of the experience they have gained this year, most recently at Rallye Deutschland. The partnership they have built allowed them to make precise pacenotes, crucial for the Slovenian stages, which were punctuated with blind corners. With trust in the notes, and in Wydaeghe, Korean Lim could focus fully on his performance behind the wheel. The boost this gave the pair was clear.
Despite not having tested ahead of the event, consistent times through the opening day put the duo in the top five overnight. The newly acquired knowledge of the stages allowed them to make a number of set-up changes to their New Generation i20 R5 before the start of Saturday’s running. Quickly settling into the same rhythm he had found from the start, and with an improved car beneath him, Lim could now push for the top times.
Running at the front
He began the day with the second fastest time, and a fourth and third placed runs followed as he returned to service in fourth position overall. Weather conditions throughout the weekend had made tyre choice a difficult decision. Believing that the approaching rain would leave the later stages slippery the Hyundai Motorsport team departed service running on four dry weather tyres, but with a pair of wet weather Michelin in reserve.
The uncertainty in the conditions made no impact on Lim’s performance as he started with another second fastest time, and moved up to third overall on the following stage. However, inspecting the car on the road section the pair found slight damage to their front-left tyre. Wary of the danger of a puncture they opted to change the tyre, putting a wet weather tyre on the front corner, as well as the rear-right to minimize the impact on the car’s handling.
Unfortunately, on the penultimate stage of the rally the crew misjudged a fast corner. Entering at the same speed as they had done on the previous loop the different tyre combination failed to offer the same grip. Lim ran wide though the corner and the car fell into a ditch, putting a distraught Lim out of the event.
Chewon Lim said: “I feel this was our best rally of the year. We used all our experience from this year so far to make the best pacenotes possible for stages we had never seen before. With precise notes I was able to focus only on the driving. It was tough to find the rhythm at first, but especially on the second day we had really positive feeling in the car, and some good times. It’s really frustrating to have lost a chance of a podium. We had the corner marked as OK to be nearly flat out after the first run, but with the different tyres we didn’t have the grip and there was no space to recover once we were too wide. Overall though, it was a great feeling to be fighting at the front with the opportunity for a strong result.”
Hyundai Motorsport Team Manager Alain Penasse said: “Chewon’s performance at the Rally Nova Gorica showed what difference the understanding he and Martijn have gained this year can make. Even though they were not able to test, they prepared for the weekend well, making good pace notes. That allowed them to properly focus on their performance on the stages, which showed with some promising times. Unfortunately they weren’t able to take the result they deserved. This was the first time they have been running at the front of a rally in an R5. As a crew they need more experience of this unique situation. I am sure they will take a more cautious approach after the frustration of last weekend.”