New Generation i20 R5 customers continue to chase titles in both international and domestic championships, as their seasons enter the final months.
With a third consecutive victory in the Spanish tarmac championship Iván Ares took another step on the path towards what would be his first national title. Ares and his co-driver José Pintor dominated the Rallye Villa de Llanes (September 29-30). The pair took the lead after winning the second stage, and headed the overall standings through the remainder of event, as they set three more top times. The result not only continued the duo’s winning run, but also their fantastic record of having finished every round of the championship this season on the podium.
With the victory, together with the second fastest time on the TC Plus power stage, they added 11 points to their margin at the top of the championship. They now enjoy a 64.4 point advantage over their nearest rival, who could only muster fourth place at the most recent event.
Surhayen Pernía and Carlos de Barrio added to their own strong recent record with a third podium of the season. The Hyundai Canaries supported pairing scored two stage wins on their way to third overall, despite incurring a ten second penalty for a jump start.
Three rounds remain in the Spanish championship, the next event coming in the north of the country at the Rally Santander Cantabria on October 21-22.
Basso continues strong TER Series form in Austria
Giandomenico Basso also remains on course to end the season with a championship celebration. The Italian, running with the BRC Racing team, took on the Rally Liezen (September 29-30), the fourth round of the Tour European Rally (TER Series). Facing the regulars in the Austrian championship, where former WRC cars are still eligible to compete, Basso and co-driver Lorenzo Granai had to fight hard to secure third place overall at the end of the event.
In doing so they finished as the first of the crews entered for the international championship, as well as setting the fastest time among the R5 entrants on three of the rally’s stages. The New Generation i20 R5 pair now head the championship by 34 points, with two rounds of the series remaining in the season.
A trio of top-tens in Croatia
Four Hyundai Motorsport customers lined up at the start of the Croatia Rally (September 29-30), led by Claudio de Cecco and Juraj Šebalj in a pair of Friulmotor owned cars. They were joined by Czech driver Vojtěch Štajf, running in his first event with a New Generation i20 R5, and LP Winner driver Lovász Pál.
At the completion of the rally is was Štajf who led the group, one of three i20 R5 drivers in top ten in seventh place overall, ahead of Šebalj and de Cecco in ninth and tenth. De Cecco’s finish was also second of those crews entered in the Slovenian championship, keeping him in contention for the title with only one round to go.
Also on stage in Portugal, France and Scotland
A week earlier a pair of New Generation i20 R5 had run on the gravel of the Rali de Mortágua (September 22-23) in Portugal. On his debut in a New Generation i20 R5 Paulo Meireles enjoyed a consistent weekend to take sixth place, after moving up the order throughout the stages on the second day of competition. Unfortunately, the last place he gained came at the expense of fellow Hyundai driver Manuel Castro. Castro had enjoyed a very strong run, and was sitting in sixth place until almost within sight of the end of the event, when he was forced to retire.
On the same weekend there were also strong results for Frenchman Jonathan Orens and John Wink who finished fourth and fifth respectively. Orens was competing on the tarmac of the Rallye Régional de la Vie while Scottish driver Wink was running his car on the McRae Gravel Challenge, following the conclusion of his national championship campaign.
Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing manager Andrea Adamo said: “It is always hugely enjoyable to celebrate victories with our customers, and all the more exciting as we enter the final stages of the national championships where they are fighting for titles. A third consecutive victory in Spain and another double podium is a superb showing. National rallying, with R5-specification at the fore, is incredibly competitive so to have New Generation i20 R5 customers running at the front in series throughout Europe is hugely impressive. We now have to continue to work with our customers to support them through to the end of the season, as every event takes on greater importance.”