Oliver and Aaron took impressive stages wins in Greece
The second event for our brand-new i20 N Rally 2 car resulted in mixed fortunes for our Customer Racing Junior Driver Oliver Solberg and his co-driver Aaron Johnston as they were forced to retire from Acropolis Rally.
The crew had shown impressive speed in the car’s debut gravel event, taking stage wins on Friday and Saturday morning. Unfortunately, a crash on Saturday’s opening loop caused suspension damage that prevented them from continuing. However, there were still positives for us to take away from the weekend.
Take it from the top
Oliver and Aaron showcased the potential of the new car immediately, as gravel action got underway. The first timed run, Aghii Theodori (SS2), saw them set the fastest time of the WRC 2 cars to move into an early lead. They added to that with the second fastest in the subsequent Loutraki test (SS3), extending their advantage at the top of the classification to 6.4-seconds.
Unfortunately, on the repeat of Aghii Theodori (SS4), our young crew picked up suspension damage in the rough conditions.
“We had a good start with the fastest WRC 2 time in SS2,” said Oliver. “I was really happy without taking any risks, and the car felt great. Stage four was very rough and tricky, and unfortunately, we had a suspension issue. We were able to fix it, but we ran out of time and had to stop.”
Starting out strong
The penultimate day of the rally comprised of six stages over a scheduled distance of 132.56km. Oliver and Aaron were keen to show their potential with committed runs through the opening tests, Pavliani and Gravia, in which they took another stage win. Sadly, a crash in the following Bauxites run saw their rally come to a premature end.
“It is a real shame that we haven’t been able to deliver the result that the car and the team deserves,” said Oliver. “The positive is the speed. The car was so quick and everybody at Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing and RedGrey has done such a fantastic job. This is still the beginning.”
Our Team Principal Andrea also reflected positively on the rally, despite the result. “We have shown that the i20 N Rally 2 is a fast car. I am happy and optimistic, overall, because Oliver and Aaron showed that every time they had a smooth run, they were by far the quickest, which is a good sign in a tough rally like Acropolis.”
Final Overall Classification WRC 2 – Acropolis Rally
1 A. Mikkelsen / E. Edmondson (Škoda Fabia Evo) 3:37:27.1
2 M. Bulacia / M. Der Ohannesian (Škoda Fabia Evo) +16.7
3 N. Gryazin / K. Aleksandrov (Ford Fiesta MkII) +4:45.0
4 G. Linnemäe / J. Morgan (Škoda Fabia Evo) +6:02.0
5 M. Prokop / M. Ernst (Ford Fiesta MkII) +9:02.7
6 S. Johnston / A. Kihurani (Citroën C3 R5) +9:27.6
7 L. Urlichich / T. Woodburn (Citroën C3 R5) +18:11.7
8 M. Østberg / T. Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) +40:50.4
2021 WRC 2 Championship for Drivers’ Standings
After round 9
1 A. Mikkelsen 98
2 M. Østberg 87
3 M. Bulacia 82
4 J. Huttunen 60
5 E. Lappi 59
6 N. Gryazin 51
7 A. Fourmaux 48
8 T. Suninen 41
9 E. Brazzoli 31
10 M. Prokop 28
2021 FIA WRC2 Championship for Teams’ Standings
After round 9
1 Toksport WRT 211
2 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 131
3 Movisport 125
4 Hyundai Motorsport N 37
5 Sainteloc Junior Team 27
All results remain subject to official FIA confirmation.