Hyundai Motorsport has scored its sixth individual podium result of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with Sébastien Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena claiming third position after an exciting battle with Sébastien Ogier.
Loeb’s first podium for Hyundai Motorsport was hard earned and well deserved as he continually improved his pace and performance throughout the weekend. Moving up from eighth place at the end of Friday’s opening stage, the Frenchman emerged as a credible threat to second-placed Ogier on the final morning.
Sunday’s itinerary covered the 14,41 km Bio Bio, 18,06 km Lircay and 15,28 km San Nicolas stages. Bio Bio was repeated as the Power Stage after a regroup and technical zone.
Andreas Mikkelsen finished in seventh place, scoring a few manufacturer points, but it was a contrasting weekend for the Norwegian after his podium finish in Argentina. Thierry Neuville could not participate in the rally on Sunday following a crash on Saturday’s Maria Las Cruces special stage, which destroyed his car. He will return at Rally de Portugal in a few weeks’ time.
The Rally Chile result brought a change at the top of the drivers’ championship leader board, with the non-scoring Neuville dropping down to third with a 12-point deficit to Ogier and two points to Ott Tanak. Hyundai Motorsport is still on top in the manufacturers’ championship with a strong lead of 29 points.
Crew Notes – Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena:
Loeb said: “Rally Chile has been a difficult but enjoyable and productive event from my point of view. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so comfortable inside a car that I can be in the game. The Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC has given me that feeling and it shows we are heading in the right direction.
“There was no chance to catch Ogier in the Power Stage; I was happy to be battling with him, but the gap was too big today. We’ve scored some important points for the team, and I am pleased to be able to support their defence of the championship title.”
Crew Notes – Andreas Mikkelsen/ Anders Jaeger-Amland:
Mikkelsen said: “This rally has been a real disappointment after the high that we had in Argentina. I am sure we can pinpoint the error back to the recce. We took very aggressive pace notes, and following a few small moments, I was never truly able to trust the notes as much as we need to. In the end we were in a bit of no man’s land, so we took a cautious approach and focused on making improvements for the future. We look forward to the next rally.”
Team director Andrea Adamo said: “Sébastien and Daniel have done a great job this weekend to take their first podium as a Hyundai Motorsport crew. All weekend, they have been keeping us feeling young, back to the sort of performance level that reminds us of his best years. He has driven an amazing rally and really helped to keep our championship aspirations alive. The result helps us to minimise the damage to an extent, but when you consider the accident of Thierry and Nicolas, things are certainly not as bad as they could have been. For that we are thankful.”
The WRC’s gravel challenges continue in round 7, Rally de Portugal, that takes place from 30 May 30 to 2 June.
The Hyundai Motorsport team returns to Europe after the South American double-header, all eager to fight for victory as the season reaches its halfway point.
— Arrive Alive (@_ArriveAlive) May 15, 2019