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Hyundai Motorsport has moved into the lead of Rally Argentina, round four of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), following a commanding performance from Hayden Paddon today, and a dramatic late afternoon retirement for long-time rally leader Jari-Matti Latvala.
 

There were solid performances from the three Hyundai Motorsport crews on the penultimate day with all drivers making progress compared to their nearest rivals. The New Generation i20 WRCs have shown promising pace on the tough Argentinian terrain but with three demanding stages still to run on Sunday, the team can not rest on its laurels.
 
Paddon (#20 New Generation i20 WRC) and co-driver John Kennard, representing the Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team this weekend, moved into a comfortable second place in the morning loop courtesy of two stage wins (SS10 and SS11). A further stage victory in SS14, coupled with the retirement of Latvala, saw the Kiwi crew move into the overall lead with an advantage of 29.8s over Sébastien Ogier.
 
Paddon commented: “To finish the day leading the rally is unexpected but it certainly changes things for the final day! We started this morning with some good stages that I really enjoyed and we were getting good performance out of the New Generation i20 WRC. We just wanted to keep the pressure on and to stay in touching distance. Consistency has really been the key. We took on a mix of tyres for the afternoon loop with hard on the front and soft on the rear. It was a compromise and I struggled a bit at times with the balance. We know tomorrow will be tough - and Seb will push - so we have to be sensible and just do the best we can. We’ll definitely be doing our homework tonight!”
 
Hyundai Shell World Rally Team driver Sordo (#4 New Generation i20 WRC) closed the gap on his nearest rival Andreas Mikkelsen throughout the day and moved into a top-four position at the end of SS14.  The Spaniard will now focus on trying to secure his position on some of the rally’s roughest and most demanding stages.
 
Sordo said: “It’s been a pretty good day and we can be pleased to start tomorrow from fourth place overall. We have had a nice time on today’s stages and had a good feeling. This morning, the car worked well and we were able to reduce the gap to Andreas. Our tyre choice in the afternoon made it difficult at times to keep the car in the middle of the road but at other times it worked well. Normally I am happy to take risks but we have just tried to stay in contact because tomorrow is going to be a hard day. I am happy for the team that we are able to show good pace; it’s rewarding for everyone and we’ll do all we can to keep this momentum tomorrow.”
 
Neuville (#3 New Generation i20 WRC) had a less troublesome day, the Belgian met his target for Saturday by recovering valuable positions on the overall standings to head into Sunday chasing a top-six finish for the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team.  
 
Neuville commented: “We’ve had a better day today and it was good to show a more representative pace. After the difficulties we had on the first day, we had to re-evaluate our approach. We knew that anything could happen at the front, so we just kept concentrated and focusing on completing each stage. We had a decent morning loop and we used that as an opportunity to build up a good rhythm. We were determined to make some progress in the overall classification and we’ve managed to do that. We’re on the edge of the top-six so that’s got to be our aim for Sunday and to pick up some very important points for the team.”
 
Hyundai Motorsport has demonstrated the pace of its New Generation i20 WRC in Argentina this weekend, taking the fight to the established front-runners in the majority of stages. Despite holding a rally-leading position at the end of Saturday, the team knows that tomorrow’s stages can still turn the rally on its head.
 
Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “It is great to see a Hyundai Motorsport driver at the top of the classification at the end of the day and it gives the whole team a real boost. It’s certainly been an exciting day for our team but we are trying to keep our feet on the ground. Hayden had another fantastic day with three stage wins, keeping in touch with the front-running pace. It was obviously a shame for Jari-Matti to go off in SS14. I do think that Hayden has shown enough performance so far this weekend to be leading the rally on merit. Dani and Thierry have also had a strong Saturday and have moved into good points scoring performances, which is important for the team. This rally, one of the toughest of the season, is far from over so we have to stay calm and focused. Three stages don’t seem much in terms of their overall distance but tomorrow could be the biggest test of the entire weekend.”  
 
Sunday’s itinerary consists of three stages totalling 55km: the legendary El Condor-Copina stage will be run twice, once as the rally-concluding Power Stage, sandwiching the 22.64km Mina Clavero -Giulio Cesare stage. It promises to be a thrilling run to the finish with Hyundai Motorsport firmly in the hunt!
 
Overall Classification after Day Two
H. Paddon / J. Kennard (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) 2:54:45.6
S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +29.8
A. Mikkelsen / A. Jaeger (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +44.3
D. Sordo / M. Martí (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +1:02.0
M. Østberg / O. Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:46.2
M. Ligato / R. Garcia (Citroën DS3 WRC) +8:13.1
T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +8:17.9
H. Solberg / I. Minor (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +8:17.9
E. Camilli / B. Veillas (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +9:00.3

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