Reality check for Hyundai in Kenya
By Jason Craig
Sunday 25th June, 2023 - 1:03pm
The setbacks Hyundai Motorsport has endured at this weekend’s Safari Rally Kenya are a “harsh reminder” of the work the team must do to solve the issues that continue to afflict its Rally1 car.
Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul made the comments at the end of the second day after Esapekka Lappi retired from the event on stage eleven – Soysamba 2 – when his supermini developed a suspected propshaft failure. At the time, Lappi had been holding third overall at from Toyota Gazoo Racing’s third points scoring car driven by Elfyn Evans.
It was the same issue that prevented the Finn from banking any runs of the short shakedown stage on Wednesday.
On Friday, the second i20 N Rally1 car of Thierry Neuville had to be parked up near the conclusion of the opening leg when a bolt in the suspension’s top mount worked its way loose which allowed the damper to move out of position.
Despite hinting that he could skip the remainder of the event, the Belgian’s car was fixed overnight by mechanics and his priority now is scoring maximum points on Sunday’s end-of-rally Power Stage.
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It means the Korean manufacturer’s hopes of salvaging some silverware from round seven of the World Rally Championship rest with series veteran Dani Sordo and given how the conditions have caught many out, that may not be beyond the realms of possibility.
“Like yesterday, today is a harsh yet clear reminder of where we are,” said Abiteboul.
“We have suffered with extraordinary reliability issues and while it is only two, it is two too many. When you look at the level of effort that went into the preparation from everyone and especially from Esapekka and Janne, it is very tough that we have been so strongly.
“It was a challenging day for Thierry opening the road, but it is good to have him back in a points-scoring position and now we are aiming for maximum Power Stage points tomorrow.
“It is so important to have Dani still in the mix for the manufacturers’ championship, so hopefully he can keep on building his speed and momentum,” added the Frenchman.