Thierry/Martijn confirm superb second place
After three intense days at Rally Finland, round nine of the 2023 WRC season, our team has claimed another podium finish with Thierry/Martijn in a spectacular second place.
It was certainly a rollercoaster ride for our team, with Teemu/Mikko in a gripping battle for third place across Saturday and Sunday at their home rally. However, our Finland fun took a dip on Friday when our second local crew, Esapekka/Janne, retired from the event.
“While today’s result is a strong one and positive for the championship, we can see we need to make more steps if we want to become a constant contender against Toyota,” said our Team Principal, Cyril.
A strong performance on the Finnish roads saw the Belgians claim their first podium at the event as a crew. During a dramatic opening day that saw many crews retire from the event, Thierry/Martijn found a good rhythm to move into second overall, scoring three stage wins, and were just 6.9 seconds off the lead on Friday evening.
On Saturday they continued that great form, finishing second on every single of the day’s eight stages that spanned an incredible 160.68km of competitive distance. While they still hoped to emerge victorious, the gap to first continued to grow, yet they were elated to finish in second place on Sunday.
“It is a big relief to be back on the Rally Finland podium after ten years,” said Thierry. “It shows that the team and the changes that are ongoing are heading in the right direction.”
“We know these fast rallies don’t necessarily show our car at its best, but it is the work going on behind the scenes in the factory that has helped us to improve the car, so I’d like to say a huge thanks to everyone” added Cyril.
Teemu/Mikko once again impressed in only their second event in our i20 N Rally1 Hybrid. The Finns put themselves into podium contention on Friday with a consistent run through the tricky and treacherous stages.
Saturday saw them push in earnest; by the second stage of the day they had moved into the provisional podium place after Takamoto Katsuta spun his car. The pendulum continued to swing between them and they traded places twice more. Teemu/Mikko narrowly missed out on the podium after a concerted effort and some fine flair on Sunday’s stages; a final flourish on the Power Stage saw them next three extra points.
“The result itself is quite good even if there is some disappointment to miss out the podium,” admitted Teemu. “It has been a pleasure working with the Hyundai Motorsport team, they are really supporting me and giving me everything they can.”
Early doors for Esapekka
Sadly for our second Finnish crew, their dreams of a home podium were snatched away on Friday. The duo were within touching distance of the top three when a mistake saw them run wide on SS5 Myhinpää 1, where they made impact with a tree.
The crew were unharmed in the incident however the team was unable to repair the damage to their car, and they were forced to retire from the event.
“The accident was a pace note mistake, I was too optimistic for the right hand corner, we were too fast and we went into the trees,” said a disappointed Esapekka. “I am really sorry for the team and the Finnish fans as this was the rally I was most looking forward to and I was eager get a strong result.”
The next round of the WRC season, Acropolis Rally, will take place on September 7-10.