Hyundai ends on top in Central European Rally

Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe
Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe

Hyundai Motorsport is celebrating a fantastic victory on home soil in the Central European Rally, the 12th and penultimate round of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), where Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe have finished on the top step of the podium.
The Belgians emerged triumphant after a tricky inaugural event, which is the first in WRC’s history to traverse three different countries (Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic). Across 18 complex tarmac stages, the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid crew has been consistent and avoided such errors that befell their competitors on the challenging routes.
Their victory – which marks the team’s 15th podium finish of the season, and eighth of the year for Neuville/Wydaeghe – is testament to the hard work of the team both on site and at the company’s headquarters in Alzenau. It is also a significant win due to the strong presence of Hyundai Motor Company in the area, including Hyundai Motor Europe and Hyundai Motor Deutschland, both based in Frankfurt, and Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Czech, which was the first Hyundai manufacturing plant to be built in Europe.
It was a solid yet cautious final day of Central European Rally, with the core focus for Neuville/Wydaeghe and team-mates Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula to pass safely through the four remaining stages, covering a distance of just 67,24 km.
The Belgians’ gap extended to 43,9 seconds ahead of the Power Stage, where they successfully brought home four additional points as they confirmed their second victory of the year. Neuville is now only seven points adrift of second place in the drivers’ standings heading into Rally Japan, the last round in this year’s championship that will take place from 16 to 19 November.
Suninen/Markkula closed a successful first outing on tarmac with the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid. It was a steep learning curve for the Finnish duo, who managed to improve their pace across three trouble-free days to bring the car home in sixth position.
Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe

 “I am really happy; it was a relief to make it to the finish!” said Neuville. “It was a very challenging, tough weekend out there. Overall, we have done a very good job; we had good consistency and speed, which really paid off, and I was able to start enjoying the rally more towards the end – especially when the grip conditions got a bit more stable. Thank you to everyone – it was a real team effort this weekend, and we did it. To win here in front of lots of Belgian fans and family is obviously great – a lot of joy in this moment.”
Crew Notes: Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula

Suninen said: “Generally the rally was good. I haven’t done one like this for two years, so I was thrown in the deep end! Every loop was different in terms of weather and conditions, so there was a lot of learning. I had good pace in places – like going second fastest on SS11 – but my experience wasn’t enough to adapt to the conditions of the car from the very first kilometre.

“I’d like to say a big thanks to the team, it was a great season. It was nice to jump in the car mid-season and take on this challenge; I think this is a good position to continue building on from here.”
Hyundai Motorsport team principal Cyril Abiteboul said: “This is a great feeling. Firstly, congratulations to Kalle Rovanperä on securing his second FIA World Rally Championship drivers’ title today. It has been an impressive season from him and Toyota Gazoo Racing; they are clearly the benchmark and one that serves as inspiration for what we want to do. As for us, this was a very good rally. It was a new event, and everyone put a lot of effort into the preparation. So many people from our factory have joined us for our home rally this weekend, as well as our colleagues from Hyundai Motor Europe, Hyundai Motor Deutschland, and Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Czech. For now, congratulations to Thierry and Martijn on their win. They made no mistakes in a very challenging weekend. Teemu was able to accumulate more experience in very different conditions, and it was a good opportunity for us to see his progression as we determine our next steps.”

Final results Central European Rally:

1T. Neuville M. WydaegheHyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid2:52:39.9
2K. RovanperäJ. HalttunenToyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid+57.6
3O. TänakM. JärveojaFord Puma Rally1 Hybrid+1:52.8
4S. OgierV. LandaisToyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid+2:08.6
5T. KatsutaA. JohnstonToyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid+2:48.3
6T. SuninenM. MarkkulaHyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid+3:06.3
7G. MunsterL. LoukaFord Puma Rally1 Hybrid+4:22.3
8A. FourmauxA. CoriaFord Fiesta MkII+11:35.8
9N. CiaminY. RocheŠkoda Fabia RS+11:53.1
10P. L. LoubetB. VeillasFord Puma Rally1 Hybrid+12:04.3

Manufacturers’ Championship standings:

1Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team504
2Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team399
3M-Sport Ford World Rally Team271

Drivers’ Championship standings:

1K. Rovanperä235
2E. Evans191
3T. Neuville184
4O. Tänak162
5S. Ogier114
6E. Lappi98
7T. Katsuta89
8D. Sordo63
9T. Suninen42


Sign up to receive our newsletter in your inbox, every month.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Verified by MonsterInsights