Hyundai has ended its World Rally Championship (WRC) season with a thrilling Rally Australia win by Thierry Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul, sealing second place in both the Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ Championships. Hayden Paddon and Seb Marshall finished third to give the team a double-podium in the final event of the year.
Driving a Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, Neuville overcame torrential rain on the final day to win by 22.5 seconds. It was the Belgian’s fourth win of the season, and the third time in five years that the he has secured the runner-up position.
“This is a very special victory, and I dedicate it to everyone in the whole team” said Neuville. “They have been working hard all-season long. It hasn’t always been easy, but they have never given up – not only those at the rallies, but also everyone at the factory. Now, we can enjoy this moment before turning our attention to next year.”
Hayden Paddon and Seb Marshall were on course for a fourth-place finish, until late drama forced Jari-Matti Latvala to stop mid-stage. That saw Paddon and Marshall promoted to third position, and onto the podium.
“We never want to score a podium through someone else’s misfortune,” said Paddon. “It’s unfortunate for Jari-Matti, but the podium is a nice result for us after a tough year.”
Hyundai crews totaled an impressive 14 stage wins in Australia, the most for the team in a single event. It was the culmination of a competitive year in which Hyundai has taken victories on three different continents, on gravel and tarmac, and with versatile performances from the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC.
“We have plenty of positives to take away from this year,” said Team Principal, Michel Nandan. “It has been one of the most closely contested seasons in WRC. Thanks to our rivals for some exciting battles throughout the season, and a fantastic year of competition. My thanks also to every member of our team in Alzenau for their individual contributions to our season – and to our partners and fans.”
Although the 2017 season is over, thoughts already turn to the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship, which will get underway with the Rallye Monte-Carlo on 25-28 January. The season will be formally launched at a special event during the Autosport International Show in Birmingham, UK on Thursday 11 January.