Strong start for four-car Hyundai Motorsport squad on opening day in Germany

The team finishes the first day of Rallye Deutschland with two cars just off the podium positions

The team finishes the first day of Rallye Deutschland with two cars just off the podium positions

Trier, Germany

August 21, 2015 – It was a positive start to this weekend’s Rallye Deutschland, ninth round of the 2015 WRC calendar. All four driver crews achieved what they set out to do on the first day of action.

Hyundai Shell World Rally Team driver Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo returned to where they last year achieved a memorable 1-2 result. Hayden Paddon was joined in the Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team by Kevin Abbring as our team brought four cars to a rally for the second time this season.

Dani pushed hard in today’s two loops and finished the day in fourth place overall. He will continue to focus on his strategy and secure as many manufacturer points as possible by the end of Sunday.

“It has been a pretty good start to this rally,” commented the Spaniard. “We had a decent morning loop although we had some work to perfect the set-up of the car. We struggled with some understeer but fought through to lunchtime service where we made some modifications and improvements. I pushed harder this afternoon and had some good stage times, especially in the final two runs. We have not been able to compete with the top-three drivers but the times are close for the remaining positions so we have to continue pushing hard to score a good haul of manufacturer points.”

Thierry comes to Germany having won last year’s Rallye Deutschland. He showed a competitive pace today with several top-six stage times and sits in fifth place overall.

“I have had a good day overall with just one difficult stage at the end of the morning loop (SS4 Mittelmosel 1), which I started in the wrong rhythm,” said the Belgian. “I had pushed quite hard in the third stage so I didn’t want to take too many risks and I perhaps took it too cautiously. Otherwise, I have tried to push hard throughout the day, finding a rhythm and confidence. The cars at the front are incredibly fast but we need to focus on our own programme, making sure we find improvements all the time and to work as a team to secure important points for the championship. Tomorrow is a long, tough day of stages so we have to remain focused.”

Hayden took a sensible approach to today’s action, as he does not have much experience rallying on tarmac conditions. A top-eight position at the end of the day is an encouraging result for the young Kiwi at this early point in the weekend.

“We knew heading into this rally that we would have to use it as a learning experience,” he said, “and to build our confidence on tarmac, a terrain with which I am not as familiar as gravel. It’s not been a bad first day and we are perhaps closer to Thierry and Dani than we expected. We’ve had a few tough stages but we have to be realistic and focus on finding improvements where we can. It’s a bitter pill after we’ve been competing for top-fives in recent rallies but we’ll persevere and see what tomorrow brings.”

Rallye Deutschland is Kevin’s third event for our team, and the second in a four-rally campaign for the Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team. He is using this event to gain experience in the Hyundai i20 WRC and has done well today, sitting just outside the top-ten overall.

“Our aim for this rally is to continue our learning curve in our first event with the team on tarmac,” said the young Dutchman. “It has certainly been a challenging day. In the very first stage this morning, we were delayed when some horses got loose onto the stage and it was difficult to cope with cooling brakes and tyres. I didn’t really have the confidence in the first two stages and we then had some issues with the differential, which made it hard to keep the car on the road at times. The team changed the gearbox at lunchtime and I felt better at the start of the afternoon. But, I lost feeling with the brakes as the afternoon went on, so we have to understand what we can do to improve for tomorrow.”

Rallye Deutschland brings back happy memories for our team thanks to last year’s result, but it is also a home rally for our Alzenau-based squad. All four driver crews have finished the day with good runs and will look to improve further tomorrow.

“It’s great to be back competing in Rallye Deutschland,” said Team Principal Michel Nandan. “We can’t forget last year’s success, of course, and being a local event for our young team, it makes it even more special. This is, however, a different season so we have to reset our expectations. Dani and Thierry have focused on finding a good rhythm with their cars today and it has been satisfying to see them have a trouble-free day to finish in the top-five overall. Hayden is using the event to adapt his driving style to tarmac conditions and he has achieved what we expected of him today. Kevin, too, is learning all the time and although we have had some technical issues with the differential, he has composed himself well and I am sure will continue to grow his confidence tomorrow. All in all, it’s early days but we’ve had a pleasing start to our home rally.”

Tomorrow will see nine special stages, including the tough Panzerplatte Lang run twice. It will be a demanding day for teams and drivers, with a strong and consistent performance being important to maintain our overall position in the standings.


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