Hyundai Motorsport has taken its second consecutive podium result of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) on the weekend as Thierry Neuville finished in third place after 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.
Norwegians Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jaeger-Amland were also in the podium hunt and finished fourth overall, fending off M-Sport's Elfyn Evans.
Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena took seventh to ensure all three Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC cars completed all 316 km of special stages reliably.
Sunday's itinerary featured two runs of the 21,19 km Likenas stage, followed by a return to the 8,93 km Torsby route - first run late on Friday evening - which acted as the Power Stage on Sunday lunchtime.
Pushing to secure a podium result, Neuville added four extra points for finishing second in the Power Stage, which boosted his drivers' championship total. He holds second place on 40 points and will start second on the road on the dusty gravel roads of Rally Mexico next time out.
Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul:
Neuville said: "We are pleased to be on the podium again; we couldn't have done any more here at Rally Sweden. It was a big battle in these tricky conditions and we were on the edge for a large part of it. When you push 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."
Crew Notes: Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger-Amland:
Mikkelsen said: "We gave it all we could this weekend, and it was an exciting right to the end. Of course, we would have preferred to finish on the podium but congratulations to Thierry for his result. It is a pretty good team result for here; third and fourth gives us important points, but we know it could have been better.
"In conditions like we have faced, it is a high-risk strategy to push too hard. Today, we wanted to maintain a good pace but not do anything crazy to jeopardise our position."
Crew Notes: Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena:
Loeb said: "It has been a complicated weekend, with a lot of ups and downs. I am happy to have made it to the end of the rally. We have set some good times during the event and we have been able to learn a lot more about the Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC, which is very useful for the future. In the end, looking at these positives, it has been a satisfactory weekend but with room for further improvement."
Team Director Andrea Adamo said Hyundai Motorsport could summarise the results as "could have been worse, should have been better".
"Our three crews pushed to the limit of what they could do in tricky conditions, and we appreciate the efforts they have all gone to this weekend. All three cars finished the rally, which is testament to the ability of the crews and the reliability of the i20 Coupé 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 Mexico, which will be a completely different challenge."
Final Overall Classification - Rally Sweden:
|1||O. Tänak/M. Järveoja||Toyota Yaris WRC||2:47:30.0|
|2||E. Lappi/J. Ferm||Citroën C3 WRC||+53.7|
|3||T. Neuville/N. Gilsoul||Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC||+56.7|
|4||A. Mikkelsen/A. Jaeger-Amland||Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC||+1:05.4|
|5||E. Evans/S. Martin||Ford Fiesta WRC||+1:08.2|
|6||K. Meeke/S. Marshall||Toyota Yaris WRC||+1:38.8|
|7||S. Loeb/D. Elena||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||+1:49.7|
|8||P. Tidemand/0. Fløene||Ford Fiesta WRC||+3:37.7|
|9||0. Veiby/J. Andersson||Volkswagen Polo GTI RS||+6:34.0|
|10||J. Tuohino/M. Markkula||Ford Fiesta WRC||+8:21.4|
2019 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers' Standings:
2019 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers' Standings:
|1||Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team||58|
|2||Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team||57|
|3||Citroen Total World Rally Team||47|
|4||M-Sport Ford World Rally Team||30|