Thierry Neuville believes Hyundai made 'good use' of its time in Sardinia and is confident the squad will make further improvements on Rally Poland later this month.
Hyundai starred initially on Rally Italia Sardegna, with Neuville and team-mate, Juho Hanninen running 1-2 after the first four stages. However it all went wrong in the next test, with then rally leader, Neuville losing over 20 minutes with a suspension problem, while Hanninen rolled out
Neuville eventually came home in 16th, but remained positive: “We have really made good use of our time here in Sardinia to work hard on developing our Hyundai i20 WRC for these challenging conditions,” he said. “Going out on the road so early means that we have been cleaning the route in most stages but I think Nicolas [Gilsoul – my co-driver] and I did a good job in the circumstances. We have also been able to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the car in these conditions.
“Obviously, we are all disappointed with what happened on Friday, which prevented us from fighting further up the classification. But the team has done a good job and we can look forward to Poland where we will continue to make improvements.”
Hyundai's third driver Hayden Paddon meanwhile brought his i20 WRC to the finish in twelfth on his first outing with the squad. He had been in eighth until his car developed a misfire in the final test on Saturday after going through a water splash. That issue forced him to stop, but he was able to re-start under Rally 2.
“The guys did a great job last night to repair the car and to get me back out into the rally today [Sunday]. Like yesterday, we were early out on the road so we had to contend with slippery conditions and loose gravel. In this morning's stages, we had to look after the tyres and that affected the times but I felt more confident in the car today,” said Paddon.
“I knew it was going to be a tough first rally with the team because I have never driven here before, but we have made good progress.
“We've not been pushing and have concentrated on getting to the end of each stage, learning as much as possible both for myself and for the team. Overall, there are definitely things we could have done better but this is not a one off event so we can use this to build for the next event.”
“We have had a busy, tough but ultimately very productive rally here in Sardinia,” summarised team principal, Michwl Nandan. “We are not competing this year for stage times but to develop our Hyundai i20 WRC for each rally. Of course, it is nice when we show competitiveness, as indeed we have done in several stages this weekend.
“This Rally Italia Sardegna has been particularly tough and in some extremely hot temperatures. The team has done a fantastic job, working really hard and we leave here with lots of motivation for the next round in Poland.
“Thierry and Hayden have done a professional job today and we have used the final stages to learn more about the car. It is obviously a shame we couldn't finish with all three cars but we still leave here with lots to discuss back at the factory to prepare for Poland,” he concluded.