IT was smiles all round as the champagne flowed for Hyundai Motorsport in Sardinia at the weekend, with the team claiming an impressive double podium result with a second and third place.
Hayden Paddon (#20 Hyundai i20 WRC) claimed four stage wins to secure a well-deserved second place overall. The Kiwi, alongside co-driver John Kennard, led the rally from the start of Friday’s action and only relinquished that lead on Saturday afternoon’s loop.
“To finish on the podium is an absolutely amazing feeling. Words can’t really do justice to how I’m feeling right now,” Paddon said. “We had a strong weekend from the start but we just tried to take each stage as it came without looking too much at the timesheets. We knew it would get tougher once we lost the start position advantage so the fact we could hold our own against the World Champion was just fantastic.”
For his team mate, Thierry Neuville (#7 Hyundai i20 WRC), it was a troubled start to the rally when, on Friday, he experienced mechanical complications but he has fought hard in the face of difficulty, eventually picking up third place overall.
The result is the Belgian’s second podium of the season after finishing runner-up in Sweden in February, and his fifth in total for the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team with his co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul. It is the second time that Hyundai Motorsport has had two drivers on the podium after the team’s 1-2 at Rallye Deutschland last year.
“For sure, it has not been an easy weekend so to come away with a podium result is absolutely great. I am very happy for myself and for the team after all of the work we’ve had to put in this weekend,” Neuville said. “From the very first day, we found these Sardinian stages to be very demanding and often quite rough, which has been tough for the car and from a driving point of view. We have battled a few problems but the team has worked exceptionally well to keep the car running strongly.”
For Spanish duo Dani Sordo and his co-driver Marc Marti in the third Hyundai, the weekend was one of frustration, finishing outside the points and forced to run under Rally 2 regulations. They will be keen to bounce back at Rally Poland on the first weekend in July.