Hyundai Motorsport finished with both i20 rally cars intact at this weekend's Rallye Monte-Carlo, the first of the WRC season.
The Hyundai Shell World Rally Team drivers Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo were embroiled in one of the closest battles of the entire rally, as they fought for fifth place right up to the final stage of the rally. Just 0.2s separated the teammates heading into the Power Stage but it was Neuville who eventually took the position by 0.8s.
For Neuville, the result actually represents his first ever finish in Monte-Carlo. The Belgian has made steady improvements over the course of the rally, gaining more and more confidence with each day. A strong final push in the Power Stage awarded him a well-deserved top five result in the opening rally.
Neuville said: "It feels great to have completed my first Rallye Monte-Carlo. It's an unbelievable rally, really difficult and it is a real honour to have the opportunity to drive some of these fantastic stages. After the disappointment of last season, we wanted to take things a bit cautiously but I have gained more confidence with each stage and have really enjoyed myself today."
Sordo has been in fight-back mode ever since he lost half a minute of time on the opening stage of the rally on Thursday, putting in some competitive stage times over the weekend. The Spaniard clawed back positions with a determined drive making his way into the top five overall at the end of Saturday, but he was eventually forced to settle for sixth place at the conclusion of the Power Stage.
Sordo commented: "Our target was to reach the end of the rally with both cars, and we have achieved that so it is a good result for the whole team. The battle with Thierry was incredibly close but he was faster in the final two stages, so well done to him. We lost a bit too much time in the Col de Turini stage but sixth place is still a good result."
by: Becca Chaplin