Hyundai Motorsport has taken its second consecutive podium result of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) as Thierry Neuville finished in third place in a closely contested battle on the concluding day of Rally Sweden.
Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul mounted a strong campaign during the weekend, having been down in seventh at the end of Friday’s stages. The Belgian duo ended the 19-stage event just three seconds from second-placed Esapekka Lappi after a determined performance.
“It was a big battle in these tricky conditions, and we were on the edge for a lot of it,” Neuville said. “When you are pushing so hard, it is easy to make mistakes, so we have to be content with our third place – as well as taking four extra points for second in the Power Stage.
“We are still at the start of a long season with lots more to come, so it is important to get as many points in the bag in these opening rounds. As a team, we are all focused on pushing for more performance, and we will continue to work in this direction as we prepare for Mexico.”
Neuville now holds second place in the drivers’ championship on 40 points and will start second on the road on the dusty gravel roads of Rally México next month. Norwegians Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jæger-Amland were also in the podium hunt and finished in fourth overall, fending off M-Sport’s Elfyn Evans. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena took seventh to ensure all three Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC cars completed all 316km of special stages reliably.
“I think we can summarise our weekend results as ‘could have been worse, should have been better’,” said Team Director, Andrea Adamo. “All three cars finished the rally, which is testament to the ability of the crews and the reliability of the i20 Coupe WRC. The pace has been evident in the first two rounds of the season, but we need to keep pushing for more, as we head to Rally México, which will be a completely different challenge.”