Hyundai team principal Michel Nandan has said he was 'extremely' disappointed to see Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo both go out of Rally Argentina in the final stage on Friday.
Neuville had been running fourth, but lost power on the repeat-run through the 51.88 km Ascochinga-Agua de Ora stage and was forced to stop mid-stage in his Hyundai i20 WRC. Sordo also had problems in that test, but with the exhaust manifold. He was running well down the order, however, after turbo issues in the morning cost him over 12 minutes.
“Obviously, we are extremely disappointed that both Hyundai i20 WRC cars have been forced to retire this afternoon,” Nandan reflected. “We knew that this rally would be tough because we have not had the chance to test here so we did not expect things to run without incident. However, our involvement in WRC this year is precisely to learn as we compete.
“Today we have taken part on some of the roughest stages we have seen so it has been a stern test for our cars, as indeed it has for more experienced teams.
“Both Thierry and Dani have done a great job, persevering in face of tough tests and really showing their team spirit. It is with this united approach that we will learn the most from difficult and disappointing days like today. The team is doing a great job in fixing Dani's car and I'm sure when Thierry's Hyundai i20 WRC will be back in service they will manage to do the same.”
Neuville and Sordo meanwhile were both pretty frustrated: “We had a clean start to this rally even with the really tough terrain that we had to tackle following the recent rain in the area,” continued Neuville, who will re-join in eighth, assuming his car can be fixed.
“The roads were extremely challenging and we could see from others that it wasn't easy to navigate. We decided to take it easy and it was the right approach since we were able to maintain a top four position heading into the lunchtime service. The afternoon loop started well with another fourth place but in SS5 I suddenly lost power and we were forced to stop to prevent further damage.
"It is a real shame to have had to stop in the final stage but this was always going to be a real test for us and I hope that if we can restart tomorrow, we will be back on the pace.”
Sordo's day was a lot more trying and he only managed to do one test at speed, going sixth quickest in SS4. He will definitely re-start under Rally 2 on Saturday, albeit down in 16th.
“It has been a very disappointing and frustrating day for me,” stated the Spaniard. “First we had a problem with the intercooler pipe which meant that we had limited engine power. Obviously we lost a huge amount of time because of this in SS2. We tried to find and fix it on the road section but it wasn't possible so we had to just finish the long SS3 in the same condition, putting us right down the field.
"The team did a good job over lunch and we got back into the top six times in SS4. Then, in SS5, we had an exhaust manifold problem that we could do nothing about, so we had to retire. The team has done a fantastic job now though to get our Hyundai i20 WRC back in shape overnight. The conditions have been hard and it has been the first time for the Hyundai i20 WRC car to compete here, so it's not been easy but we still have two days of competition in front of us.”