Hyundai Motorsport WRC Report: Round 10 - Acropolis Rally

11 September, 2023

  • Hyundai Motorsport has claimed another podium finish at Acropolis Rally, the tenth round of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship season
  • A nail-biting final day saw Dani Sordo and Cándido Carrera battle hard for second place, but ultimately finished the weekend in a fine third place
  • Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm claimed a Power Stage point in their run home to fifth, while Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe secured a top-three finish on the longest stage of the day

Hyundai Motorsport ends a challenging outing at Acropolis Rally, the tenth round of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) season, with Dani Sordo and Cándido Carrera finishing third after a tantalising final fight.

It was a bittersweet ending to a punishing event, in which the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team was a genuine contender for victory. The team looked on course to successfully defend its fantastic 2022 win prior to Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe’s retirement from the lead on Saturday.

The final day of Acropolis Rally featured three tests: Tarzan (SS13, 23.37km) opened the day ahead of the technical and demanding Grammeni (SS14/15, 9.00km). Crews had the opportunity to recce the Power Stage on the first run before a final service.

Sordo/Carrera continued their close battle with Elfyn Evans from Saturday; although they lost second place on the first stage, SS13 Tarzan, the Spaniards responded emphatically on SS14 Grammeni 1. A stage win brought the gap down to just 2.7 seconds heading into the Power Stage. The pair tried everything to regain the position with a last-gasp attempt on the final test, but ultimately had to settle for third place.

With an unsurmountable gap to fourth, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm’s target was to bring their Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid home in fifth place. There were no repeats of the issues that hampered them earlier in the rally, and the Finns were able to enjoy clean drives through the morning loop. Having saved their tyres for a final Power Stage push, the crew successfully claimed an additional point from the weekend.

Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe returned on Sunday to tackle the final three stages in a bid to salvage some points for the championship. The crew swung into action on SS13 Tarzan, setting a top-three stage time. The final result fails to reflect the pace and performance of the #11 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid crew, who were in a commanding lead of the event prior to their retirement. The Belgians now target retribution in the final three events of the season.

Crew Notes: Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (#6 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)

  • Spaniards secure second podium finish of the season
  • Determined drive on Sunday included stage win on SS14 Grammeni 1

Sordo said: “I tried everything in that final stage. Elfyn had a little bit of bad luck during the rally but he has driven very well. I’m not really happy with my performance this weekend, but we managed to finish in third place. Today we were able to go for it, which I really enjoyed, so I’d like to give a big thanks to the team for giving me another opportunity to drive like this. They are striving all the time to improve the car and pushing me to do better, so I will try to continue doing so.”

Crew Notes: Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (#4 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)

  • Solid run on SS13 Tarzan marked ninth top-three stage time of the event
  • Claimed final Power Stage point on Sunday’s SS15 Grammeni 2

Lappi said: “It was good to finish the rally in the way that we did. I was enjoying the final stages, I was aggressively attacking but lost some time as well because of that approach. Still, after two days of problems it was good to have a trouble-free day and an enjoyable drive. Today was ok overall, but it was not our weekend. We need to get better, and next time we will be.”

Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (#11 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)

  • Solid run on SS13 Tarzan marked ninth top-three stage time of the event
  • Belgians turn focus to comeback fight in Chile

Neuville said: “Luck wasn’t with us this weekend; yesterday, we were in control of the lead, had a good tyre strategy, and the car was working well. Everything was going perfectly until our suspension failure, and unfortunately that cost us a victory. I enjoyed the driving today, the car was feeling very nice, so that’s a positive to finish the weekend. This may be the end of our championship title hopes, but now we look ahead and target some victories in the final events of the season.”

“We wanted to make sure we finished this event on the podium, which Dani and Cándido achieved, but we are all a bit disappointed with the overall result of the weekend. The whole team wanted to do well at Acropolis Rally, particularly as it was the best result of the season in 2022, and we all wanted to replicate that success. We still demonstrated that the car was working, the team was well prepared, and the crews were highly motivated. Like other competitors this weekend, we stumbled on some of the specific challenges of this rally and need to assess to what extent they can be avoided in the future. Now we will focus our efforts on fighting for wins in the final events of the season. Everyone in the team knows we are on a steep learning curve and to do well next year, we need to push as hard as we can this season.” - Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul

Next Rally

  • WRC heads to South America for the 11th round of the 2023 season, Rally Chile (September 28 – October 1), which returns to the calendar for the first time since 2019.

Final Overall Classification - Acropolis Rally

1   K. Rovanperä     J. Halttunen     Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid     3:00:16.7
2   E. Evans     S. Martin     Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid     +1:31.7
3   D. Sordo     C. Carrera     Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid     +1:35.9
4   O. Tänak     M. Järveoja     Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid     +4:28.4
5   E. Lappi     J. Ferm     Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid     +6:22.3
6   T. Katsuta     A. Johnston     Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid     +7:20.9
7   A. Mikkelsen     T. Eriksen     Škoda Fabia RS     +9:41.0
8   G. Greensmith     J. Andersson     Škoda Fabia RS     +9:51.3
9   J. Rossel     A. Dunand     Citroën C3     +11:07.0
10   S. Ogier     V. Landais     Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid     +11:43.4

2023 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers’ Standings (after round 9)

1   Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team     430
2   Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team     339
3   M-Sport Ford World Rally Team     220

2023 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers’ Standings (after round 9)

1   K. Rovanperä     200
2   E. Evans     167
3   T. Neuville     134
4   O. Tänak     119
5   S. Ogier     99
6   E. Lappi     98
7   T. Katsuta     66
8   D. Sordo     63
9   T. Suninen     34
10   P.L Loubet     28