Hyundai duo Thierry Neuville and Juho Hanninen will both re-start under the Rally 2 regulations on Saturday and take in the final day of Rally Sweden, round two of the 2014 WRC, it has been confirmed.
Neuville was the first out this morning, when he hit a rock halfway through the opening test, Lesjofors 1. Although he managed to limp through the stage and got to the finish, he was unable to go any further.
“It has definitely been a disappointing day following our positive start to the rally,” said Neuville, who had been in P7 overnight. “We started the first stage this morning in high spirits but unfortunately in the second half of the stage we had a small impact on the front right, probably from a rock, which damaged part of the suspension. It didn't cause a lot of damage and we tried to fix it but we lost too much time.
“We then decided with the team it was best not to risk anything and instead focus on repairing the car for tomorrow. Things like this happen and it's another part of the learning programme. Tomorrow, we will be going out on the road first so it will be tricky, cleaning the roads, but it is important for us to accumulate more mileage with these still young Hyundai i20 WRC cars.”
Hanninen in contrast got through the morning loop and was running in a strong sixth, until he hit something in SS12 - the repeat-run through Lesjofors. The impact damaged the front right wheel and put him into a snow bank.
“We had a good morning and I felt very happy and comfortable in the car,” Hanninen noted. “We set some good stage times and worked our way up into the top six overall by lunchtime. There was nothing to improve in the car or with the tyres, everything was positive. When we started the repeat loop the conditions were very difficult with not so much snow on the road. About halfway through the stage I made contact with something in the road which damaged the front right wheel and we went hard into a snow bank. The damage meant that we couldn't continue.
“It was obviously not how we wanted to end the day but there was nothing more to do. Thankfully, the team can repair the car so we will start again tomorrow under Rally 2 regulations and aim to continue building our experience.”
“Obviously, today has not been very easy for the team,” summarised Hyundai team principal, Michel Nandan, “but it is what we are participating for. Rally Sweden offers unique challenges and to be able to gain first-hand experience in competitive conditions is hugely beneficial to us as we continue to develop as a team.
“Thierry's car was not too badly damaged and he will restart the rally tomorrow. Juho also unexpectedly hit something in the road in SS12 which significantly damaged the front right wheel and sent him into the snow bank. Thankfully, we are also able to get him back into the rally tomorrow.
“Both drivers have shown that there are positive signs from the Hyundai i20 WRC against some very tough opposition but our focus remains on building up our team experience and adding miles onto the cars, something we will continue tomorrow.”