Hyundai WRC

Hayden Paddon keeps his job with Hyundai

2014 WRC Rally Australia

Kiwi driver Hayden Paddon will extend his WRC career with Hyundai Motorsport in 2015 driving a minimum of nine rallies. In 2014 the 27-year-old and co-driver John Kennard competed in six WRC events, with a best result of P6 in Rally Australia.

“I am very excited to continue working with Hyundai Motorsport with an expanded programme, starting with round 2 in Sweden,” Paddon said. “I learnt a lot and built some really good partnerships within the team this year and it was an obvious choice for us to develop more and chase better results in 2015.”

Paddon clearly impressed team boss Michel Nandan during his limited running this season, explaining his feedback to engineers has been very helpful.

“He had a great first WRC season with us, putting in some eye-catching performances and helping us a lot in the development of our team and car,” Nandan said of Paddon. “He gives excellent technical feedback and works very well as part of a close-knit team with the engineers and mechanics.

“He has already proven himself more than capable of rallying with the best drivers in the world and his personal development was evident as he reduced the gap to his more experienced colleagues.”

Australian driver Chris Atkinson drove for Hyundai at Rally Mexico and Rally Australia in 2014 and it’s unclear what role he will play with the team next year.

Spanish ace Dani Sordo is confirmed for at least 10 of the 13 rounds in 2015, so opportunities for Atkinson may be thin on the ground.

Citroen Ford Hyundai Volkswagen WRC

2014 Rally Germany in pictures

2014 WRC Rally Germany

WRC cars in aggressive tarmac trim, the stunning beauty of the Moselle Valley, as far as world class rallying goes, it doesn’t get much better than this.

So strap yourself in and enjoy reliving Thierry Neuville’s maiden WRC victory. There’s some awesome photos in our latest rally installment; we hope you’ll like them.

Hyundai WRC

Thierry Neuville wins 2014 Rally Germany

Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul, 2014 Rally Germany

Thierry Neuville has outlasted his competitors at Rally Germany to register his first WRC win and, of course, the first rally victory for Hyundai Motorsport as well. The 26-year-old Belgian was the fourth driver to take the lead on the tarmac roads of the Moselle wine region and the only one not to crash out of contention.

Defending world champion Sebastien Ogier was the first to retire when he careered through a barrier at high speed early in Saturday. He and co-driver Julien Ingrassia were very lucky to escape with no injury.

Ogier’s demise handed a relatively comfortable lead to Jari-Matti Latavala who was chasing his first WRC victory on tarmac. Alas on Sunday morning the Finn lost control on the opening stage and sent his car deep into picturesque vineyards. Kris Meeke was the next to take the lead hoping to post a best possible result for Citroën, but he too crashed out shortly after Latvala.

And so Neuville was the last man standing as it were. Rounding out a great rally for Hyundai was the fact Dani Sordo finished in P2, 40.7 seconds behind his team leader. A 1–2 result is an oustanding way for the Korean manufacturer to post its first WRC victory.

Latvala will rue his missed opportunity to close the gap on Ogier in the championship title race. He is still 44 points behind Ogier but could have cut that gap to as few as 16 points with the win and three bonus points.

None of that will concern Neuville and a beaming Nicloas Gilsoul who will be celebrating their maiden WRC win long into the night.

UPDATE: Hyundai’s official reaction to the win has been added below along with a Day 3 highlights video.

Hyundai Video WRC

Onboard with Dani Sordo at the Fafe Rally Sprint

Dani Sordo, Hyundai i20 WRC, Fafe Rally Sprint

Watching good quality onbard footage of any motorsport catergory rarely gets tired. And that theory is proved with this clip from Hyundai showing Dani Sordo in action in the i20 WRC at the Fafe Rally Sprint on the weekend.

The unofficial warm up to Rally Portugal was won by Sebastien Ogier in front of around 100,000 cheering rally fans.

In addition to the Dani Sordo clip there’s another clip for you, filmed from within the massive crowds. It’s more quality action and it almost feels like you’re right in there, part of the electric atmosphere.

Hyundai WRC

Hyundai to run three cars in Rally de Portugal

2014 Rallye Monte Carlo

Hyundai has announced it will run three i20 WRCs in a rally for the first time with confirmation Thierry Neuvilla, Juho Hanninen and Dani Sordo will compete at Rally de Portugal (3–6 April).

“Having three cars at Rally de Portugal will be very positive for us and it will allow us to continue our data collection and to accumulate more mileage in our debut WRC season,” said Team Principal Michel Nandan.

“I think we have a good line-up for Portugal with Thierry, Juho and Dani—each of them will bring their experience and will give us their own unique feedback which will help us in the continuous development of the Hyundai i20 WRC.

“Thierry’s level of performance combined with Juho’s skills on gravel and Dani’s experience and excellent track record at Rally de Portugal make them a very good choice for the event.”

Hyundai also confirmed it will participate in the traditional warm-up for the Portugal event, the Fafe Rally Sprint.

Chris Atkinson gets his first competitive taste of the i20 WRC when he joins Neuville in a two-car attack for Hyundai at Rally Mexico (6–9 March).

Hyundai WRC

Hyundai’s WRC return didn’t quite go to plan

Hyundai i20 WRC

We have no doubt Hyundai would love nothing more than for Thierry Neuville’s rivals to be looking the tail of his i20 WRC in 2014. We just don’t think they quite imagined his tail would be all smashed up like this.

That’s the sad an unfortunate result of Neuville’s off in the icy conditions of SS1 at the Rallye Monte Carlo. Unsurprisingly, he was forced to retire from the rally.

Better results awaited Dani Sordo in the #8 i20 WRC and he managed to find himself in the podium positions, running in third. Sadly for him an alternator problem forced him out of the event.

After much hard work and high on anticipation Hyundai’s new era in the WRC was over almost before it began. Hard luck for them. On the positive side for WRC fans Hyundai Motorsport has already packaged up a YouTube video. On the negative side for Hyundai an amateur video showing Neuville’s car being winched onto a flat bed is also on the tubes.

After day 1 of the Monte privateer Bryan Bouffier in his M-Sport prepared Fiesta RS WRC holds a commanding lead over Kris Meeke (Citroën) and Robert Kubica (Ford). Defending champions Volkswagen have to make do with fourth (Ogier), seventh (Latvala) and ninth (Mikkelesen), but at least they’re all still running.

Hyundai WRC

Hyundai ready for WRC return

Hyundai i20 WRC

Hyundai will make its return to the WRC next week, although strictly speaking, the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team will make its debut. Team leader Thierry Neuville will be joined by Dani Sordo as the pair cross their fingers and hope for the best when the i20 WRC fires up and the action starts.

Neuville understands he’s about to head into the great unknown with his new car. “Our aim is to finish the event and get some good experience and mileage to further develop the Hyundai i20 WRC,” the young Belgian said.

“We carried out some good testing ahead of the rally where we drove the car in very different weather conditions. Although it is very difficult to recreate the exact same conditions we will find on the event and to test everything, we will give it absolutely everything.”

Team Principal, Michel Nandan, is also circumspect ahead of his team’s first outing. “This rally has been the first major target in our development schedule and finally we’re there,” Nandan said. “It’s a hugely significant and special moment for us all.

“We all know that Thierry can achieve outstanding performance levels despite his young age, while Dani has a lot of experience in WRC and at Rallye Monte-Carlo. I can definitely say that we have a very good mix!

“We have not set any results targets because our first priority is to finish the rally with both cars, to learn as much as possible and to use that as a base to improve for the following events.”

Hyundai WRC

Hyundai Motorsport launches i20 WRC car

Hyundai i20 WRC

Hyundai Motorsport has launched its i20 WRC and with it comes a title sponsor and full driver line up for the 2014 season. Officially known as the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team the outfit will be lead by rising Belgian star and runner-up in the 2013 WRC season Thierry Neuville.

The team will run two cars over the course of 2014 and the second i20 WRC will be shared among three drivers. Finnish driver Juho Hänninen will compete in the bulk of the rallies with Spanish driver Dani Sordo stepping in for Rallye Monte Carlo, while Chris Atkinson will race in his home event at Rally Australia. More opportunities for Sordo and Atkinson to compete next year are likely, but that’s all we have confirmed for now.

You’ll notice a large N on the bonnet of the i20 and the overalls of the crew. This is a new letter used to signify “high performance technologies” used in the WRC car. It pays homage to the company’s Namyang R&D Centre and will also soon be seen on Hyundai’s road cars.

Michel Nandan, Team Principal of Hyundai Motorsport, explains much work has already been done, but the team knows its biggest challenge awaits.

“In less than one year, we have built and tested a brand new WRC-specification car, the Hyundai i20 WRC, and established a professional team and modern motorsport facility,” Nandan said. “It’s a huge accomplishment but we know that we have a lot to learn in our first season.

“Our aims for 2014 are realistic: we want to finish each rally with both cars and build up a database of information and experience so we can develop ourselves into prospective rally winners in the future. If all goes well, we will hope to be competing for occasional podiums as the year progresses.”

More detail and photos from Hyundai Motorsport are all yours after the break.

Citroen Ford Volkswagen WRC

Sebastien Ogier wins 2013 Rally de Espana

2013 Rallye de Espana

Sebastien Ogier’s good fortune has continued after he fought back to win Rally de Espana on the weekend. Jari-Matti Latvala’s second place ensured Volkswagen secured the manufacturers’ championship in style, too, registering the team’s first one-two finish.

Rally de Espana is a diverse event covering tarmac and gravel with the extra dimension of night stages. The severe dust during the gravel stages made things very tricky for the drivers.

Ogier started in his usual fashion, building a lead over his rivals. However, he suffered a puncture cutting a corner a little too aggressively and dropped down to fourth place. Latvala and Dani Sordo, in his home event, assumed the battle for the lead.

Sadly, both endured bad luck which put both men out of contention. Latvala’s car had a leaking fuel line on the final day which caused a small fire and scuppered any hopes of Volkswagen duel to the finish line. Alas, Sordo’s misfortune was worse, hitting a small rock which wrecked his suspension and forced him into retirement on the final day while a podium position was his for the taking.

In the difficult gravel stages Ogier was superb fighting his way back from a deficit of over 40 seconds. He put on a rallying masterclass, made his own luck and took the win by over 30 seconds in the end.

Earlier this year Sebastien Ogier raced in the Porsche Supercup at the Monaco Grand Prix, where he became friends with Sean Edwards. After the rally Ogier dedicated his win to Edwards and his family.

It’s been a magical debut season for Volkswagen in 2013 and with just Rally Wales GB in mid-November left on the calendar they’ll be hoping they can finish the season with another victory.

A special note for Robert Kubica, too, who won the WRC2 championship with his class victory in Spain. We’ll have more on that later.

Citroen Volkswagen WRC

Sebastien Ogier wins 2013 Rallye de France-Alsace

2013 Rallye de France-Alsace

Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have capped off their world championship by coming from behind to claim victory in Rallye de France-Alsace.

After the euphoria of the opening day when their championship was finally secured in the Power Stage the leading duo made a poor start to the rally proper. They ended Day 2 down in fifth place and well off the pace.

Ford driver Thierry Neuville was looking good thanks to a wise tyre choice which allowed him to end the going fastest in all the afternoon stages. An unfortunate puncture on Day 3 ended Neuville’s hopes of a maiden victory. He has shown much promise in 2013 and his career is sure to reach greater heights in the coming years.

Dani Sordo was again showing Citroën he has the pace on tarmac and inherited the lead from Neuville, but by the day’s end Volkswagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala had carved out a narrow edge to head the field into the final day.

Day 4 shaped as a classic with the first four drivers—Latvala, Sordo, Ogier and Loeb—separated by just five seconds. In wet and muddy conditions Ogier’s class shone through. He ended the opening stage of the day with a seven second lead over Sordo, with Latvala a further six seconds behind the Citroën driver.

Sadly, for all-time greats and nine time world champions, Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, their rally ended after Loeb lost control on a fast right hander, spearing off the road and into the bushes where the car came to rest on its roof. Thankfully both men were okay, but it was an unfortunate end to rallying’s best ever career.

Citroën had adorned their car with a great looking black and gold livery with the pair’s impressive statistics featured all over the car. While they did move their all-time tally of stage wins from 896 to 900, there were no additions to their 116 podiums or 78 rally victories. Still, it’s an amazing record, which is sure to remain unmatched.

Ogier was never really troubled for the remainder of the day and he took victory by 12.2 seconds from Dani Sordo. Jari-Matti Latvala was third, 19.5 seconds behind his teammate.

There’s nice symmetry in Ogier being crowned world champion in his home country as the title finally escapes Loeb’s clutches. The Alsace region is where Loeb grew up and while he’ll be disappointed to have ended his career upside down the crowd support he has enjoyed this rally will stay with him for years to come.

With two more events left on the 2013 calendar Volkswagen enjoys an 80 point lead over Citroën in the manufacturers’ championship and will be hoping it can wrap that title up at the next event in Spain later this month.

Citroen WRC

Dani Sordo wins 2013 Rally Germany

Dani Sordo wins 2013 Rally Germany

Citroën pairing Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio have shown great personal character to claim their maiden WRC victory. The Spanish duo have been dropped for next month’s Rally Australia, but fought out a gripping battle with Ford’s Thierry Neuville to win Rally Germany.

In truth the win came about because both Volkswagen’s crashed out of contention while leading the rally; Sebastien Ogier on Day 1, followed by Jar-Matti Latvala on Day 2. Neuville inherited the lead from Latvala but was unable to withstand the strong pace shown from Sordo all weekend, who took the lead late on Day 3.

Able to maintain the lead in the final day Sordo was elated with his first WRC win. “It’s fantastic to claim my first win after such a close fight,” he said. “We had no choice but to keep applying the pressure and in the end, Thierry was forced into a mistake. We didn’t get off to a particularly good start, but we all worked together to improve. We did the hardest part yesterday, but we had to maintain our form today and that’s exactly what we did. Now that I have my first win, I want some more!”

Ogier was able to claim the three points on offer in the power stage, so it wasn’t a total loss for him and Volkswagen. Although, Citroën managed to cut 29 points out of Volkswagen’s championship lead.

The WRC entourage hits our shores next month for Rally Australia (12–15 September).

Citroen Volkswagen WRC

“Shit happens!”

Sebastien Ogier crashes out of 2013 Rally Germany

This weekend’s Rally Germany was supposed to be Sebastien Ogier’s crowning glory. If things went his way he could have secured the 2013 World Rally Championship. At its home event, it would have been a perfect way for Volkswagen to announce its arrival on the world rally stage. Alas, as Ogier himself said, “Shit happens.”

Ogier crashed out on Day 1 with damaged suspension. He’ll now have to wait to secure his maiden world title. Teammate Jari-Matti Latvala now leads the charge in Germany, with Ford driver Thierry Neuville close behind.

Being a tarmac event, Rally Germany is one of our favourites. On asphalt the WRC cars look their best, with bigger wheels and lowered suspension.

For hot hatch fans it doesn’t get much better. That’s why we’ve included a couple of videos from Volkswagen and Citroën for you after the break.