Day 3: Third in the rally, second in the Championship!
The curtain has fallen on our 2016 WRC season in spectacular style with our first ever Rally Australia podium. But it was a dramatic final day down under with crews pushing hard right up to the Power Stage.
All eyes were on the Drivers Championship with Thierry locked in a fierce battle with his friend and rival Andreas Mikkelsen for second place. Despite the Norwegian securing the rally win, it was our Belgian who came away with the Championship runner-up accolade having moved up into the podium positions on Sunday morning.
The result marked the fifth consecutive top-three result for Thierry and his co-driver Nicolas. Adding two extra points for finishing second in the Power Stage, it was a fitting end to a competitive season.
I am delighted with how this rally has gone, commented a smiling Thierry at the end of the rally. We concentrated on keeping our driving clean and weve been able to achieve our objectives.
Our Team Principal Michel said: We knew wed be in for a thrilling final day. There were a few final twists in the tale of the 2016 season. Well done to Thierry and Nicolas on their performance. They have had a fantastic season, particularly since their win in Sardinia.
Hayden and John started Sunday just 12 seconds off the lead in third place. Our Kiwis had stated their intentions to push for the win, and they certainly didnt hold back.
We didnt want to go down without a fight, said Hayden. We started this mornings opening stages knowing wed have to push for the win, but we were determined to give it our best shot.
Unfortunately, in the long 31.90km Bucca stage on Sunday morning, their hopes faded. We ran slightly wide on a corner, which popped the tyre off the rim, added a despondent Hayden. We had to drive 20km with a puncture. It was devastating. We had to get over it quickly and knuckle down for the final stages.
Dani and Marc were on top form on Sunday, ending the rally 1.6s behind their Kiwi colleagues and taking third in the Power Stage. But they, too, were left ruing misfortune.
We were in a very close battle with Hayden for fourth, said Dani. We gave it a good attempt. It was nice to score a Power Stage point for our efforts. Without the time penalty on Friday, we could have been fighting for the podium but these things happen.
Ten of the best
Our second place in the Manufacturers Championship had already been secured after Wales Rally GB, but Australia added further to our impressive statistics for 2016: two victories, twelve individual podium results, 47 stage wins and 24 Power Stage points.
Rally Australia marks the tenth rally out of 13 in which we have taken a podium with our New Generation i20 WRC this season.
Thanks to the team for a job well done this year. Weve been able to show the speed and consistency necessary to be genuine contenders, said Thierry, sentiments echoed by all our driver crews.
Hayden added: There are plenty of positives to take forward to next season. Our thanks go to the whole team and to all our fans for the support. Well be back stronger than ever!
Thank you to the team for their work, said Dani. Its been a positive season and definitely gives us something to build on.
Michel summarised: We have shown a lot of progress and maturity this year, and I am personally grateful to every individual member of Hyundai Motorsport for their valuable contributions.
Wed like to save the final word for our friends at Volkswagen Motorsport, for whom Australia was their final WRC event.
I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to Volkswagen Motorsport for being such fierce competitors, said Michel. They have set the benchmark very high. We will miss competing against them, but will continue to be inspired by their achievements.
Overall Final Classification
1. A. Mikkelsen / A. Jager (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:46:05.7
2. S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +14.9
3. T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +1:12.6
4. H. Paddon / J. Kennard (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +1:26.7
5. D. Sordo / M. Martí (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +1:28.3
6. M. Østberg / O. Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:41.5
7. O. Tanak / R. Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:04.3
8. E. Lappi / J. Ferm (koda Fabia R5) +7:32.3
9. J. M. Latvala / M. Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +7:56.9
10. L. Bertelli / S. Scattolin (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +8:00.1
2016 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers Standings
S. Ogier 268 points / T. Neuville 160 / A. Mikkelsen 154 / H. Paddon 138 / D. Sordo 130 / J. M. Latvala 112 / M. Østberg 102 / O. Tanak 88 / K. Meeke 64 / C. Breen 36 / E. Camilli 28 / E. Lappi 16 / S. Lefebvre 14 / H. Solberg 14 / M. Prokop 12 / K. Abbring 10 / T. Suninen 8 / P. Tidemand 8 / J. Kopecky 7 / M. Ligato 6 / E. Evans 6 / L. Bertelli 5 / N. Fuchs 2 / A. Kremer 2 / V. Gorban 1 / K. Kruuda 1
2016 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers Standings
Volkswagen Motorsport 377 points / Hyundai Motorsport 312 / Volkswagen Motorsport II 163 / M-Sport World Rally Team 162 / Hyundai Motorsport N 146 / DMACK World Rally Team 98 / Jipocar Czech National Team 18 / Yazeed Racing 4