World Rally Championship 2

Rally2 customer round-up 3

Winning starts in Belgium and Portugal

Winning starts in Belgium and Portugal

Cédric Cherain and Damien Withers made a superb start to both the Belgian Rally Championship season and the i20 N Rally2 European Challenge with victory at Rally van Haspengouw. There was a similarly fast start for Kris Meeke, who won the opening round of the national season in Portugal. In Finland, Benjamin Korhola scored another podium to continue his good start to the year and complete the three snow and ice events that begin the country’s national championship season.

Cherain and Withers start Belgian championship with superb victory
BMA i20 N Rally2 driver Cédric Cherain made a superb start to the Belgian Rally Championship season at Rally van Haspengouw (February 22-23). Cherain and co-driver Damien Withers took the lead mid-way through the event’s opening loop and never lost their grip on to the top spot. They were quickest on four stages and were only outside of the top four times on two of the 12 stages.

The win was, of course, an ideal beginning to their campaign in the national series, but also gave them victory in the first event of the i20 N Rally2 European Challenge. The result earned them additional prize money as part of the Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing initiative which rewards top-performing i20 N Rally2 customers in several national championships in Europe.

In fourth, Gino Bux and Steven Spittaels narrowly missed out on claiming their own share of the European Challenge prize money. They came home less than ten seconds from a spot on the podium in their FS Sport-prepared i20 N Rally2. Bastien Rouard and Dmitri Debuisson completed the top six in another BMA-run i20 N Rally2.

Meeke dominates season opening round in Portugal
Kris Meeke and James Fulton dominated the Rali Serras de Fafe – Felgueiras – Boticas e Cabeceiras de Basto (February 23-24) and claimed victory in the first round of the national season in Portugal. In their Team Hyundai Portugal i20 N Rally2, the pair won nine of the eleven stages, including all three on the Friday afternoon and each of the final four on Saturday. The superb pace left them victorious, nearly a minute ahead of their nearest rivals – a clear signal of intent to challenge for the 2024 title.

Defending champion and Team Hyundai Portugal driver Ricardo Teodósio finished seventh with co-driver José Teixeira. They ended one place behind fellow i20 N Rally2 crew Pedro Meireles and Ricardo Cunha, who climbed two places – including overhauling Teodósio and Teixeira – on the final stage. Spanish crew Sergi Pérez Jr. and Axel Coronado finished ninth, having also picked up two places on the last test – to put a fourth i20 N Rally2 in top ten overall.

Palomo leads i20 N Rally2 crews in Spain after López wins stages
Óscar Palomo and Sergio Fernández finished as the best i20 N Rally2 crew on Rallye Tierras Altas de Lorca (March 8-9). The opening round of the new Spanish Superchampionship season started with Pepe López and David Vázquez fastest on the opening two stages in their Hyundai Motor España-supported i20 N Rally. The duo led for the first three stages and were part of the battle for victory until being forced to retire after going off the road.

Similarly, Iván Ares dropped out of a top-five place on SS3 after hitting a rock with his i20 N Rally2. Sergi Pérez Jr.’s Superchampionship debut in a Rally2 car started well – with fifth fastest on the opening stage – but he crashed out on the following stage.

Palomo, meanwhile, was consistent on the gravel stages. Only once were he and Fernández outside of the top ten in the stage times. Their pace was rewarded on the final loop as they moved up two places in the overall standings to claim sixth. Joan Vinyes and Jordi Mercader were ninth overall in a i20 N Rally2 entered by Baporo Motorsport.

Podium finish continues Korhola’s fast start to 2024
Benjamin Korhola continued his good start to the Ralli-SM season, with a second podium in three events at the SM Tuuri Ralli (March 8-9). The i20 N Rally2 driver, with co-driver Sebastian Virtanen, started the rally, the third and final snow and ice event to begin the national season, with the fourth quickest time on SS1. His pace set the tone for the event, as he fought for a spot on the podium. He held third overnight but dropped back to fourth after a slow run through SS5. Korhola saved his best stage performance for the final test where he set the second fastest time. However, his place on the podium was only confirmed after the end of the rally, when he was promoted to third after one of his rivals was excluded.

Moffett claims first i20 N Rally2 win in Ireland
Sam Moffett claimed his first victory with the i20 N Rally2 on the Mayo Stages Rally (March 3) in Ireland. Moffett and James O’Reilly led throughout the event. The pair would end the rally with the best time on four of the seven competitive stages, helping them to overall victory by more than 40 seconds in the first round of the national championship.

Excellent start goes unrewarded in South America
Reigning Paraguayan and FIA CODASUR Rally champion Fabrizio Zaldivar showed great pace as he started the defence of both titles at Rally Trans Itapúa (March 8-10). He and co-driver Marcelo Der Ohannesian were immediately on the pace and won the first three stages to begin building a lead. After winning SS6 their advantage stood at nearly 20 seconds. However, on the next stage – the final test of the day – the pair slid off the road and lost ten minutes.

Though their chances of a result to match their strong pace were over Zaldivar and Der Ohannesian were among the fastest crews when the rally restarted the following morning. Unfortunately, after setting the fourth best time on SS8 they were forced to change a puncture during SS9, losing more time. Their rally finally came to an end on SS11 – the opening stage of the final loop, when the retired with a mechanical issue.

Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Manager Benoit Nogier said: “Cédric Cherain and Kris Meeke made superb starts to their national championships. Both drivers are strong contenders for their national titles and victory to begin the season is the perfect way to show it. Cherain’s win in Belgium also gives him a great start to the i20 N Rally2 European Challenge, with the prize money for victory to help support his efforts for the next events of the season. We hope that the offer of the additional reward will both attract more i20 N Rally2 customers to European Challenge events and inspire them to more great performances. It was also great to see Benjamin Korhola carry on his strong start to the year in Finland with another podium with his i20 N Rally2, and for Sam Moffett to claim a first win with the i20 N rally2 in Ireland..”


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