Hyundai Motorsport WRC Report: Round 9 - Rally Finland.

07 August, 2023

  • Hyundai Motorsport is celebrating a podium finish Rally Finland, the ninth round of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) season, one of the most challenging rounds for the team
  • Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe clinched second place, the Belgians’ sixth podium of the year, with Neuville closing the gap in the drivers’ championship standings
  • Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula finished in fourth after continuing their spectacular fight for the third place, claiming four top-three stage times on the final day

Hyundai Motorsport has finished Rally Finland, round nine of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) season, with Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe in a superb second place - marking their sixth podium finish of the season.

Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe consolidated their strong performance on the complex and demanding routes to confirm their first Rally Finland podium as a crew.

Sunday featured an all-new itinerary for the final day. Four stages were contested in fair weather conditions; Moksi-Sahloinen (SS19/SS21, 16.56km), run in reverse from the 2022 edition of the event, and Himos-Jämsä (SS20/22, 9.26km) – a new tight and technical finish to the event at the Himos ski resort.

Although their target was a steady and cautious drive through the stages, the Belgian Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team crew continued to show strong pace in their Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid. Treating SS20 Himos-Jämsä 1 as a recce for the event’s Power Stage, Neuville/Wydaeghe registered the second-fastest time. They repeated the feat on SS21 Moksi-Sahloinen and in the Power Stage itself, scoring four additional championship points.

It was a gripping final day in the battle for third place, with Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula narrowly missing out on a podium position after a concerted effort. In a bid to give them the best chance at success, the team made the tactical decision to have no spare tyre in the #3 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid. The crew went on to demonstrate some fine Finnish flair, setting top-three times on every stage as they pushed hard to overturn the deficit.

The strategy began well with the Finns taking 1.9 seconds out of Takamoto Katsuta’s advantage on SS19 Moksi-Sahloinen 1. A wild run through SS20 Himos-Jämsä 1 underscored how determined the Finns were for a home podium as they used every inch of road to find a way past the Toyota, yet the gap grew to over seven seconds. The repeat of Moksi-Sahloinen saw the Finns claw back one second, however the time then proved unassailable. A final flourish on the Power Stage saw them finish third, scoring three extra points, but they had to settle for fourth overall.

Neuville has narrowed the gap in the championship standings with just 36 points separating the top three in the drivers’ standings, while Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team remains in second place in the manufacturers’ battle. The team heads to the next round, Acropolis Rally, in high spirits as it looks to defend its clean sweep of the podium positions.

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

  • Second place in Rally Finland marks sixth podium finish of the season
  • Power Stage performance secured four bonus points for championship fight

Neuville said: “It is a big relief to be back on the Rally Finland podium after ten years of what I would say was a struggle. It shows that the team and the changes that are ongoing are heading in the right direction. I think it’s clearly a sign that we have to carry on. I’m happy we have a bit of a break as this weekend was quite exhausting, but we have done the job. Thank you to the team.”

Crew Notes: Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (#3 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)

  • Fine fourth finish in only second event with Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid
  • Finished in the top-three on all four stages on final day

Suninen said: “I would say the result itself is quite good even if there is some disappointment to miss out the podium. There is a lot to process after these two rallies that will help prepare the next one and come back stronger. It has been a pleasure working with the Hyundai Motorsport team, they are really supporting me and giving me everything they can. I’m really looking forward to the next rally together.”

“While today’s result is a strong one and positive for the championship, we can see we are still missing out and we need to make more steps like we have done recently if we want to become a constant contender against Toyota. Teemu had a number of very strong moments over the weekend. There is a bit of frustration that he is not on the podium, but having that in only your second rally is a sign of our shared ambition. We know these fast rallies don’t necessarily show our car at its best, but it is the work going on behind the scenes in the factory that has helped us to improve the car, show consistency and reliability, so I’d like to say a huge thanks to everyone. Finally, we look forward seeing Esapekka back with Dani and Thierry in Greece after a well-deserved break for most of the rally community.” - Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul

Next Rally

  • The tenth round of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship will be the legendary Acropolis Rally, held on September 7-10 around Lamia, Greece.

Final Overall Classification - Rally Finland

1   E. Evans     S. Martin     Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid     2:33:11.3
2   T. Neuville     M. Wydaeghe     Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid    +39.1
3   T. Katsuta     A. Johnston     Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid     +1:36.7
4   T. Suninen     M. Markkula     Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid     +1:41.0
5   J. M. Latvala     J. Hänninen     Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid    +4:09.4
6   O. Solberg     E. Edmondson     Škoda Fabia RS     +9:33.6
7   S. Pajari     E. Mälkönen     Škoda Fabia RS     +10:03.7
8   A. Fourmaux     A. Coria     Ford Fiesta Mk II     +10:37.5
9   N. Gryazin     K. Aleksandrov     Škoda Fabia RS     +11:11.5
10   A. Mikkelsen     T. Eriksen     Škoda Fabia RS     +11:35.2

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

1   Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team     378
2   Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team     311
3   M-Sport Ford World Rally Team    205

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

1   K. Rovanperä     170
2   E. Evans     145
3   T. Neuville     134
4   O. Tänak     104
5   S. Ogier     98
6   E. Lappi     87
7   T. Katsuta     58
8   D. Sordo     46
9   T. Suninen     34
10   P.L Loubet     28