Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Hyundai Shell World Rally Team Secures First Double Finish and Maiden Podium at Rally Mexico
The Hyundai Shell World Rally Team has celebrated a landmark result in Rally Mexico with both Hyundai i20 WRC cars finishing the grueling 22-stage rally in style and lead driver Thierry Neuville scoring a maiden podium for the team in third place.
The Belgian with his co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul have been on scintillating form this weekend after initially struggling with the gravel terrain and high altitude on the first full day. Neuville put in a string of competitive stage times on Saturday to edge his way into the podium positions by the end of the day before continuing his fine form into today’s final stages to consolidate the result and pick up 15 drivers’ points.
The result wasn’t without its moments of drama, as the #7 Hyundai i20 WRC developed a radiator leak at the conclusion of the final stage. Neuville and Gilsoul were able to fix the leak in the road section and make it safely back to the service park enabling the drivers and the team to celebrate their well-earned podium result.
For Chris Atkinson, Rally Mexico has been his first competitive WRC event for over a year and his first as a driver for the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team. The Aussie met and exceeded the team’s expectations of him by also bringing his Hyundai i20 WRC car to the end of the rally in a highly commendable seventh place overall, picking up six championship points.
Atkinson and his co-driver Stéphane Prévot had to overcome some technical issues on the opening day but still registered a top ten position heading into Saturday’s stages. The pairing continued to fight hard despite encountering some demanding conditions through the Mexican gravel terrain as one of the first drivers to contest each stage. They achieved the target of completing the rally and ensuring that Hyundai Shell World Rally Team, in just its third WRC event, brought both cars to the finish for the first time.
Rally Mexico has been the toughest test so far for the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team with some of the longest, arduous stages and physical demands on the team with the high altitude in Mexico. The result marks the first time that both Hyundai i20 WRC cars complete a rally event fully but to do so with a podium result far exceeds the team’s objectives and adds 23 championship points to its 2014 rally.
Hyundai Motorsport was only established 15 months ago so the WRC program is still in development with plenty more for the team still to learn in the remaining rallies of the year. The team has focused on gaining experience and information from each event with the target of a two car finish still very realistic aims.