Hyundai Motorsports Craig Breen in his first event since returning to the team leads Rally Sweden following the opening day of action despite a reprimand.

Speaking following the action the Irishman said:

“It is hard to imagine that things would be as good as they have been today. We have had a good road position, of course, but we also have a good car. We tried to use both to take an advantage; to lead the rally overnight is a bit of a dream. I feel completely comfortable in the car, it feels soft and cuddly. For the moment, I am happy with it but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. I still don’t feel we are at the peak of where we need to be. It’s far from over. Tomorrow is a long day, and we’ve seen today that it’s hard to make much of a difference. I will give all I can, and whatever happens it won’t be for the want of trying. It’s like the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in this rally – everyone is invited

Esapekka Lappi is in the third place overall and speaking following the action he said:

Today has not been too bad but I feel there is much more to come. I was quite satisfied this morning, and thought we were where we wanted to be. It’s always good to be further up but it was a solid start. Our preparation for the event was good, and I like these conditions. I thought we would have a better set-up for the second pass but that didn’t happen as we’d expected. We will have a think overnight to see what changes we might make. We don’t want to do anything too drastic, especially with the feeling we have now, otherwise we risk something going wrong. There are small things to perfect as we try to find more improvements in our pace.”

Thierry Neuville is currently in P6 overall and speaking following the action he said”

It has been a very challenging day out there. We knew that road conditions would not be great for us as one of the first cars on the road, but we still had hope. Despite the conditions, we were incredibly unlucky to lose the bumper twice, this morning and this afternoon, so we were handicapped by that. We started the day five seconds behind Kalle (Rovanperä) and ended it 5.7 seconds back; we would have loved to turn things around but with the missing aero we just couldn’t. We had to limit the damage. Tomorrow, the road position is better but we still have the front guys behind us so it will be another challenge; we will give it our best shot anyhow.”

Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul said:

“Craig and James have been quite remarkable today, and we’ve been delighted to see their performance. The entire team, in fact, put a lot of effort into our pre-event test, and the results of that have shown. Craig was positive about the outcome from the test, in terms of set-up changes and development parts; that’s all helped him to build confidence with the team and the car. Stepping in for Thierry while he was unwell added extra mileage, which also helped. For the rest, he has simply been enjoying himself, and his end-of-stage reactions have been wonderful to see. These pure emotions are why we do what we do; the drivers are ambassadors of our sport and our brand, and they openly share these with the fans. It’s pure joy. EP has also had a strong day, pushing hard, and growing in confidence too. Thierry, still recovering from his illness, and being early on the road, has had a harder day. He picked up some damage which affected the aero performance on his car; on these roads understeer is not what you want. Tomorrow is the longest individual day of the rally in terms of stage distance so we will work closely with all three crews to prepare diligently to make improvements.”

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