Neuville on podium for Hyundai in Rally Chile

2023 FIA World Rally Championship Round 11, Rally Chile 28 September – 1 October 2023 Thierry Neuville Photographer: Austral Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydeaghe have secured a podium finish for Hyundai Motorsport last weekend after a gripping edition of Rally Chile, round 11 of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).

The Belgians inherited second place from Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula after the Finns retired from the event on the first stage of the afternoon loop on Sunday.

The Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team made the perfect start on Sunday to the final stages. With one eye on Elfyn Evans behind, and the other on closing the gap to their team-mates in second place, Neuville and Wydaeghe were on dominant form. They found a storming rhythm on SS13 (Las Pataguas 1) to extend their advantage to 15,7 seconds and bring the gap to Suninen/Markkula down to under ten. The Finns were not far behind them, and their own committed drive secured a Hyundai Motorsport 1-2 stage finish.

Attentions then turned to SS14 (El Poñen 1), a dress rehearsal for the event’s Power Stage. Neuville once again topped the classification as the battle for second truly heated up. Suninen was initially up on his team-mate at the first split, but he lost time with a few slides while driving on the limit. It was another 1-2 finish in stage, and the deficit between them was just 6,7 seconds heading into service.

Unfortunately, disaster then struck. While Neuville claimed his third consecutive stage win of the day, Suninen clipped a tree stump 7 km into SS15 (Pataguas). The damage caused to their Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid meant they were unable to continue, bringing a heart-breaking end to a promising weekend for the Finnish crew.

Neuville/Wydaeghe concluded an eventful weekend with the third fastest time through the Power Stage, scoring an additional three championship points, as the final flourish on their seventh podium of the season.

Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe

Neuville said: “It has been a tough weekend for us. Unfortunately, we had two cars out, and I feel sorry for both of them – especially Teemu, who was having a great event. We all know how cruel rallying can be, and we saw it at the previous event in Greece. We had a job to do this weekend, and we did our best despite our issues. We kept fighting and tried to keep our position and progress to second, and now we’ve scored good points. It’s a shame the manufacturers’ championship is over, but it is nice to be back on the podium in second place. We’re happy with that.”

Crew Notes: Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula

Suninen said: “I would like to say a big thank you to the team. It was a great rally and a nice battle with Thierry, but unfortunately our hard work came to an end because of a very small mistake. I was just a few centimetres too tight with my line and hit a tree stump, which was game over. Thankfully we are unhurt. I’m very sorry to the entire team that we were unable to bring home the podium for them this weekend. We hope to be able to put that right in a few weeks at Central European Rally.”

Hyundai Motorsport team principal Cyril Abiteboul said: “Firstly, congratulations to Toyota on their manufacturers’ title win today. They completely deserve it, and it serves as an inspiration for what we need to achieve over the winter to be back on a charge next year. On our side, we once again showed some strong performance in Chile. There was some very good driving by Thierry and Teemu over the weekend, with some great decisions from the team when the tyre situation became tricky. However, there were also some very disappointing moments, when Esapekka retired in the first kilometres and Teemu in the last kilometres of the rally. Eliminating mistakes and improving our overall consistency must be our immediate priority as we head towards the final two rallies of the season.”

Next rally

WRC takes on a brand-new addition to the calendar, the Central European Rally, for the penultimate event of the season from 26 to 29 October. The tarmac rally will feature stages in Czechia, Austria and Germany.

Final results Rally Chile:

1O. Tänak/M. JärveojaFord Puma Rally1 Hybrid3:06:38.1
2T. Neuville/M. WydaegheHyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid+42.1
3E. Evans/S. MartinToyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid+1:06.9
4K. Rovanperä/J. HalttunenToyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid+2:11.0
5T. Katsuta/A. JohnstonToyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid+4:41.5
6O. Solberg/E. EdmondsonŠkoda Fabia RS+8:18.5
7G. Greensmith/J. AnderssonŠkoda Fabia RS+8:44.3
8S. Pajari/E. MälkönenŠkoda Fabia RS+9:20.6
9Y. Rossel/A. DunandCitroën C3+9:53.9
10N. Gryazin/K. AleksandrovŠkoda Fabia RS+10:08.2

2023 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers’ standings:

1Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team466
2Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team360
3M-Sport Ford World Rally Team247

2023 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers’ standings:

1K. Rovanperä217
2E. Evans186
3T. Neuville155
4O. Tänak146
5S. Ogier99
6E. Lappi98
7T. Katsuta77
8D. Sordo63
9T. Suninen34


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