Hyundai Motorsports enjoyed a great start to Rally Ypres on Friday as Thierry Neuville led the way, taking four stage victories to lead the event by 7.6s from his teammate Craig Breen and speaking following the action the hometown favourite said;

We knew if we had a clean run today that we could be among the fastest. Of course, experience counts for a lot and the car has been working well, but it’s good to be leading at the end of the first day. We have tried to keep a good rhythm without taking risks and everything went smoothly. The target for the afternoon was to have another clean run. I was able to drive a bit faster because the pace notes had been checked and the gravel crew had done a good job, so I felt comfortable to push a bit and extend the lead. We got up to seven seconds during three stages which was great; I would have loved to have done the final stage with all those spectators but unfortunately the stage had to be cancelled. So far, it has been a great team effort, and we have some tough challenges ahead of us tomorrow.

Craig Breen and Paul Nagle took two stage wins this morning, leading the event through the morning loop and speaking following the action the Waterford native said:

Honestly, I am really happy and have to be pleased with how the day has gone. The car has been feeling fantastic, and Paul is doing a great job as always. It’s nice to get back the feeling on tarmac; Croatia was a struggle, but the car here fits me like a glove. The first three stages this morning went well. I lost time on the fourth one as I took some references from the R5 car, which didn’t work, but it was a brilliant loop. Two fastest times and we led the rally. The gap to the lead went out a bit this afternoon but we knew it would be a challenge to match Thierry here; to be seven seconds behind after 135km isn’t terrible. The conditions on the second loop were tricky but I still enjoyed it and it’ll be another interesting day tomorrow – after I’ve had a cup of tea and some sleep!

Ott Tanak commented following the action saying:

It is certainly a challenge to be competing at Ypres Rally for the first time, but I am happy to be here. We had a clean morning loop; there was a lot of dirt on the road already, sometimes more than I expected. The car was working well, but it was slippery in places, so we were careful. The long stages were quite demanding and on occasions it was difficult to know where you need to drive and find the grip. At times, the experience is definitely missing but we were learning step by step and the feeling was not so bad. In the afternoon, we were a bit low on boost but apart from that it was enjoyable to drive. Let’s see what tomorrow brings, with more new stages for us. It has been close, so for sure tomorrow we’d like to do a bit better.

Team Principal Andrea Adamo said:

“Clearly, it has been a day that has finished well for us with a provisional 1-2-3, and leading WRC 2 with the new Hyundai i20 N Rally2. We knew that coming here would be difficult and the first day has only served to highlight that. We can only say that all our engineers, mechanics, and drivers – the whole team – has done a good job to prepare for this event. That said, the rally is still far, far from over, so we have to fly low and keep our hopes in check because the next two days are long and complicated.”

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