Hyundai thought it had solved its reliability issues

Τhe team principal of Hyundai Motorsport, Cyril Abiteboul, expresses his desappointment for what happened at Safari Rally this weekend and admits that his team thought that it got rid of the reliability issues.

The Alzenau-based team faced some serious reliability issues this weekend as two drivers retired due to mechanical problems. More specifically, Thierry Neuville was in third place overall after the end of Stage 5, but he had to stop 7.9 Km into SS6 as the front-left suspension was broken after a compression. As he said to DirtFish, a screw was missing from the top mount which has a result for the suspension to collapse and for the driveshaft and the power-steering to be taken off. He restarted on Satuday morning under the regulations of Rally2 and totally he took back 10 places which means that he finished eighth overall. Finally, he was the fastest driver in Powerstage and scored five points in that stage for both championships.

On the other hand, Esapekka Lappi was not able to complete a single Shakedown pass in Loldia as he suffered from a propshaft issue. Despite his mechanics' efforts, he had to stop twice, so he never set a time in SD. After his teammate's retirement on Friday afternoon and his taking advantage over Elfyn Evans's stall on Saturday morning, he climbed to third place overall and was the only Hyundai driver who set a fastest time in Kenya until Powerstage. EP was chasing his fourth consecuive podium finish with the i20N, but he pulled over 22 Km into SS11 with a propshaft issue. His team confirmed his entry for Sunday, but again the propshaft was broked in Stage 14 which means that his mechanics changed it three times during this weekend. After the midday service on Sunday, his i20N was at full health for the remaining three stages and scored one point in Powerstage.

Finally, Dani Sordo stayed out of trouble throughout Safari Rally until the final day where the power-steering was failed on his car. However, he managed to complete the rally and to keep his fifth position as Ott Tanak was four minutes behind him.

"We are extremely disappointed and the whole team is downhearted", Abiteboul said. 

"This is an event that the world of rally loves, but it is one where we have never been strong and once again, we weren’t this weekend. 

"Unfortunately, it has unearthed a number of weaknesses for us that we thought had been addressed, particularly the issues Esapekka had with his prop shaft. 

"We are very sorry for him as he had been working very hard and his great pace put him in a position to fight for the podium. 

"Suspension-related issues stopped Thierry on his way to recover from a low-key start, which is a disappointment for all of us for his drivers’ title battle. 

"Dani delivered what was expected of him and helped to mitigate the cost in the championship fight. 

"Overall, a poor weekend for us but one that needs to be a useful platform to address our technical issues before the next rally".

Photo Credits: Hyundai

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