World Rally Championship 2

Rally2 customer round-up 8

Dominant wins in national championships and first FIA ERC podium for Hayden Paddon

Dominant wins in national championships and first FIA ERC podium for Hayden Paddon

Despite a final stage puncture i20 N Rally2 crew Hayden Paddon and John Kennard scored a first podium of their FIA European Rally Championship title defence and moved into a share of the of the championship points’ lead at the Royal Rally of Scandinavia. In national championships, there were dominant wins in recent weeks for Rok Turk and Stéphane Lefebvre – the latter on his debut as a Hyundai Motorsport customer – and a first win of 2024 for defending Dutch champion Kevin van Deijne.

First podium of 2024 lifts Paddon into tie for FIA ERC lead
Hayden Paddon sits tied on points at the top of the FIA European Rally Championship standings after taking a first podium of the season at the Royal Rally of Scandinavia (June 13-15). Paddon and John Kennard were among the front runners for the entire event – they were quickest in the BRC Racing Team-run i20 N Rally2 on three stages, including the opening test and closely matched the leader through most of the weekend as they increased their hold on second place overall.

Unfortunately, a front-right puncture on the Power Stage not only prevented them from claiming any bonus points, but also pushed them back to third place overall. However, as their current main title rival crashed out on the same test, third place still brought them level on points at the top of the championship – though still second in the standings based on each crew’s best result during the season.

BMA i20 N Rally2 crews show superb pace in Belgium
French driver Stéphane Lefebvre made a stunning i20 N Rally2 debut at the Ypres Rally (June 20-22), joining the BMA team’s line-up for the Belgian Rally Championship event. The team needed to repair Lefebvre’s car after a Shakedown accident and the driver, and his Belgian co-driver Xavier Portier, instantly rewarded their work by winning three of the four stages of the opening loop to establish a lead they would hold for the entire rally.

The pair added three more fastest times on the second day of the contest and took overall victory by over 40-seconds. Their winning margin was inflated slightly by a mistake by their team-mates Cédric Cherain and Damien Withers. The pair – regulars fighting for the national championship crown – had climbed from ninth after the opening stage to hold second after the first runs of Saturday morning. However, they would drop to fifth after becoming briefly stuck in a roadside ditch and requiring spectators to help bring their i20 N Rally2 back onto the road. Cherain and Withers would immediately bounce back to retake third on the very next stage and added further their points’ haul from the weekend with the fastest time on the Power Stage to complete the event and secure the final spot on the podium. Both they, and the winning Lefebvre/Portier combination also claimed the extra prize money from the i20 N Rally2 European Challenge on offer for the Flanders event.

Turk and Kacin dominate again in Slovenia
In the Slovenian Rally Championship, i20 N Rally2 Rok Turk and Blanka Kacin were again the dominant force as they won all ten stages of Rally Železniki (June 29-30). The pair finished more than 90 seconds clear of their closest challengers to extend their winning run to the first three rounds of the national championship season. Through the opening day’s four stages the Hyundai Slovenia-supported crew had already built a lead of nearly half a minute. However, they remained relentless on the second, longer day of competition to more than triple their advantage at the top of the results.

Defending national champion scores first win of 2024
Defending Dutch national champion Kevin van Deijne scored his first victory of 2024 as he and Hein Verschuuren came out ahead in a close battle for the win at the Vechtdal Rally (June 21-22). The i20 N Rally2 pair won half of the rally’s ten stages and held the lead after all but the opening stage, However, the pair was pushed hard by their rivals – their final winning margin less than five seconds after over 100km of stages.

Martin van Iersel and Willem Vissenberg brought their i20 N Rally2 home in fifth for their best result of the season so far, while Swedish driver Stig Andervang and his Dutch co-driver Johan Findhammer finished seventh.

Best result so far for i20 N Rally2 crew in France
CHL Sport Auto driver Hugo Margaillan scored his best result as an i20 N Rally2 driver in the French Tarmac Rally Championship at Rallye Vosges – Grand-Est (June 15-16). He and co-driver Corentin Silvestre were consistent throughout the weekend and were always in the fight for the podium places overall and in the stage times. Crucially, they avoided mistakes on difficult roads that knocked many of their rivals – including fellow i20 N Rally2 crew Eric Camilli and Thibault de la Haye – out of the running.

Margaillan and Silverstre finished second overall, taking their second podium of the campaign – following a third place on Rallye Rhône Charbonnières in April.

Finnish crew return to national championship podium
Pacco Motorsport pairing Benjamin Korhola and Sebastian Virtanen returned to the Finnish Rally Championship podium at the end of the SM Pohjanmaa Ralli (June 14-15). Their third place was the duo’s first podium on a gravel event this year and marked a return to form after they had started the season with a pair of top three finishes on the snow rallies that started the year. In the latest event, Korhola and Virtanen were part of the battle for the major positions for much of the running, briefly holding second place at the start of the second day. Though they remained consistent – never falling outside the top three on any of the six stages on the day – they dropped back to third in the final standings.

Hyundai Canaries crew complete overall podium
The Hyundai Canaries-supported crew of Alexey Lukyanuk and Yuriy Kulikov competed a tight overall podium at Rally Villa de Adeje (June 27-29), where the top three crews were split by only 12 seconds in the final standings. In just their second start aboard the i20 N Rally2, the duo claimed three stage wins as they battled against local crews at the top of the standings and were never outside of the top four on any of the 12 stages.

Zaldivar takes runner-up finish from Transchaco challenge
Fabrizio Zaldivar and Marcelo der Ohannesian finished second on the jewel in the crown in the Paraguayan Rally Championship Transchaco Rally (June 28-30). The Automotor Rally Team-run duo held the position for most of the event, but showed strong, consistent pace in an i20 N Rally sporting special modifications for the unique demands of the incredibly tough event. The crew were trailing by more than 90 seconds after the first two days but pulled back to within a minute over the final day’s stages, showing excellent pace over the course of the final day.

Top five for i20 N Rally2 at latest Italian championship round
i20 N Rally2 crew Andrea Nucita and Rudy Pollet clinched a top five finish on the final stage of Ralli Due Valli (June 28-29) in the Italian Rally Championship. The Friulmotor-run pair held third after the three stages on the opening day but fell to seventh on the opening loop of the following day when the action resumed. Over the final two stages they remained consistent to recover some of the ground lost.

Costly issue ends Meeke’s winning start to the season
Kris Meeke missed out on victory in the Portuguese Rally Championship for the first time this season after suffering a technical problem while leading Rali de Castelo Branco (June 21-22). The Ulsterman, who had won the first four events of the season, started the tarmac event in familiar fashion in his Hyundai Portugal-backed i20 N Rally2. He and co-driver Stuart Loudon won all four stages on the opening day, beginning to build a lead. Three more fastest times over the first four tests on Day 2 added to their advantage before a problem lost them more than three minutes and dropped them to ninth.

The duo returned to the top of the times on the following stage to seventh, where they finished the event. Their Team Hyundai Portugal team-mates Ricardo Teodósio and José Teixeira finished two places ahead, in fifth.

Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Manager Benoit Nogier said:

“Recent weeks have brought some crucial results for our i20 N Rally2 crews. Though he suffered the bad luck of another final stage puncture, Hayden Paddon claimed his first podium finish of his FIA ERC title defence and gave his chances of retaining his title a massive boost as his current main rival faltered. The double podium in Belgium at the Ypres Rally was great result for our customer crews and the BMA team. On his first rally with the car Stéphane Lefebvre showed superb pace to claim the overall win, and Cédric Cherain’s third on the podium was a great result – which could have been even better if not for his mistake on Saturday.”


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