Hyundai Motorsports took an emotional podium finish at Rally Croatia on Sunday, with Esapekka Lappi finishing the event in third place. Following the rally, Eflyn Evans, who took victory in the event, put the Irish tricolor on the podium. At the same time, the Irish national anthem played out on the podium, and there was also a minute silence in memory of Craig Breen, who died last week.
Speaking following the action, Lappi said:
I don’t know where to start. Big thanks to the team. It was not an easy decision to come here for most of us, but we appreciated the opportunity to drive again. I know it’s been really tough, arguably one of the hardest weeks ever. We kept our heads together with a smart drive that enabled us to be on the podium. It’s a very important result for us and for the team this week, so thank you.”
Thierry Neuville was forced to retire from the lead of the rally which helped Lappi score a podium and speaking following the event, the Belgian said:
I don’t know what to say. I am just so disappointed for the team, for us, after everything that has happened. It is a tough moment, so we really wanted the victory to make Craig proud. Unfortunately, we missed the opportunity with our retirement from the lead on Saturday. We have had to give more than 100%, and when you are on the limit you can’t always avoid such mistakes. We re-joined the rally this morning determined to fight in the Power Stage. We gave absolutely everything and that was for Craig
Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul said:
“This has been a difficult event for all of the rally community and we must thank everyone far and wide for their help, assistance and understanding. Looking at the sporting element of this weekend, we had to dive into this wholeheartedly from the outset of the event. This was the will of Craig’s family and what he would have wanted; this is very clear. All we have done this week has been for him and in his memory. The motivation of the team, despite the circumstances, was very high, especially Thierry. Our collective disappointment was immense when his hunt for victory suddenly stopped on Saturday. It was important for us to have a car and a crew represented on the podium today, for Craig. We knew it would mark a poignant milestone in this tough and emotional journey we have been on in the past week. We have been able to achieve that with Esapekka. It’s important that we put the sporting element to one side now. The sequence of events that has happened since that tragic day last Thursday has been incredibly hard on the team; we had to put our emotions on pause but now is the period of reflection. It will all come back hard, and it is important that we all find the time to deal with this in our own individual way.”