World manufacturer leaders Hyundai Motorsport had a horrendous time in Neste Rally Finland, their only saving grace being Hayden Paddon’s fourth place, and the equally poor performance for their team’s closest rivals M-Sport.
None of their three drivers (world championship leader Thierry Neuville, Andreas Mikkelsen and Paddon) scored any fastest times.
In the service park at Rallye Deutschland, Team Director, Michel Nandon, was asked how it happened.
Michel Nandon: The i20 was not really performing in Finland. I don't know why. For sure we were not doing as much testing on this type of roads as on some others, and we know our car is not so competitive where you have a very loose conditions on a hard surface.
This is a minus point of our car which we have not solved. I think we are missing a little bit what is required to make the driver confident, and when a driver is not 100% confident he cannot go flat out on a very fast rally like Finland, where if you are not fully committed you will lose a lot of time.
The car was better than last year for sure. Because of these conditions it was difficult for us to ask Hayden to push and go for it.
We are just in a position where we want to get points on every event and for us it was more important to get more points as possible than to try to get on the podium.
Martin Holmes: Did you expect the result to be so bad as it was?MN: Our expectation was to finish fourth, maybe third, so in the end the result is ok, a little bit worse than expected, but not so bad for us.
MH: Is the shortcoming of the car going to continue on other rallies this year?MN: Actually was more expected in Finland. We knew we had to try to do the best we could. We were not really looking to win, it is special in Finland.
Here already in Germany is a bit different. We have prepared the rally in a bit in a different way. On the other hand we know that in Germany we always perform well.
The target is always the same. Until the end of the season it is not absolutely to win, but to get points, because we want to secure the Manufacturers' championship.
Hayden Paddon was the best placed Hyundai finisher in Finland, finishing in fourth place.
MH: And your predictions about the other rallies this year in the world championship? Are there are any others where you will have a bad feeling?MN: Turkey is new for everybody, but it is a rally where the road position for sure will be important again, so will be difficult for Thierry, but otherwise we know that in this type of gravel surface our car is performing relatively well.
Spain is a bit complicated because on asphalt we need to do more work, but we did some improvement and some more will come for Spain. So it should be ok.
About the other two, Wales and Australia, we are always performing well there so I think the rest of the season should not be so difficult. Of course anything can happen, but we are quite well prepared for that!
MH: Technically, what changes are happening to the car this second half of the year?MN: So far we haven't done really a lot of things. We have worked a lot on the tarmac, but more in terms of the set-up with the suspension and things.
Some new things should come for the end of the season, but we will see if we apply to use these or not. It will depend a bit how the rallies are going on and our position in the world championship.
MH: And the usual question at this time of the year, what is the contract situation of length of time with the drivers?MN: In the moment driver plans for next year are not really a priority, even if we are thinking about that.
Let’s first get this rally going and concentrate on Turkey, then we will see what we will do.
Continuing with our existing four drivers is an option for next year. We will discuss the situation around September, not before, and then we will see what we will do.
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