Hyundai World Rally Championship Motorsports Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul says that the team should be relatively happy with where they are at following the opening rally of the season in Monte Carlo last month as they head to Sweden for the only winter rally of the year.
Although we came away from the season opener in Monte-Carlo a bit frustrated by our pace, we can be relatively satisfied with the situation in the championship. Thierry and Martijn did an excellent job to get onto the podium, and Esapekka and Janne got plenty of valuable time in the car. Heading now to Sweden, our goal is to show improvement and enable our three crews to compete for the podium places. All of our drivers have had success in Sweden before, and since Monte-Carlo they have been working with the engineers and mechanics to get the setup of our Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid right for these tricky conditions. Hopefully we can find the right balance and leave the event with a strong result and a solid haul of points for the championship.”
Craig Breen is looking forward to his first start of the season since returning to the Hyundai team ahead of the new season.
where I have been able to bring home some of my best results in the past. We only have one rally a year where we get to drive in true winter conditions with the studded tyres, so that makes Sweden even more special. The stages will be very straight and very fast, meaning you need to be committed to be quick. With quite a few stages taking place in the dark, it’s really important to make sure the pace notes are accurate. In an ideal world, I would love to leave Sweden having stood on the podium again, but with it being my first competitive event in the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid, this will be a challenge. Ultimately, my main goal is to enjoy the experience.”
The Waterford native finished second here in 2018.
Thierry Neuville is looking forward to rally Swedes saying:
The roads of Rally Sweden are very fast, so the key is to find a good line and carry as much speed as possible through the stages. We showed that we can be competitive on snow and ice last year, so it is our hope that we can be quick again in Sweden this time around. Consistency across the weekend will be vital, which is always easier when the car is comfortable to drive, meaning setup will be very important. Road position can also play a factor; if it is cold and icy, then it is best to be early in the starting order. However, if there has just been some fresh snow, then it is better to be on the stages later on. We want to be fighting for the podium positions from the start to finish, and of course we will try to beat as many of our main competitors in the championship as possible.”
Esapekka Lappi is also excited about hitting the snow in Sweden saying:
Rally Sweden has always felt like a second home event for me because it is very similar in profile and surface to the fast Finnish roads that I know best. I believe that we will be getting proper winter conditions this year, allowing us to have lots of fun between the big snowbanks. The second pass in Sweden is always special due to the narrow ruts that require you to quickly adapt your driving. Preparations for the rally will be important, so we must make the most of the pre-event testing and our Finnish Rally Championship experience. If we can bring everything together, we will be back on the podium again like we were last year.”