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Hyundai World Rally Team At 2020 Turkish WRC Won Two Double-Podiums!

2020-09-29

Thierry Neuville and Sebastien Loeb finished second and third respectively in the 2020 WRC 5th round Turkish rally, with Hyundai World Rally Team achieving two double-podiums in a row.

Hyundai Motor Company’s World Rally Team gained momentum on Sept. 6, finishing up its first WRC Estonian rally with a one-two finish after the race resumed in six months. The 2020 WRC, which was reduced to seven rounds due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is already having the fifth round in Turkey. Every single race is more important than ever.

The only WRC race left for this season is the Italian and Belgian rallies.

Along with the Finnish rally, the Estonian rally, which took place just before the Turkish rally, is one of the fastest on average in the WRC. The average driving speed of the Estonian Rally this season was 116.8 km/h. On the other hand, the Turkish rally is known to be the slowest of all WRC events. In fact, the average driving speed of the Turkish rally this season was 82.1 km/h, which is more than 30 km/h slower than the Estonian rally. All drivers participating in the Turkish rally had to adjust to a completely different environment from the high-speed Estonia rally, which ended just two weeks ago.

Race cars have to survive in hot weather, overcoming the tough conditions of the Turkish rally, full of sharp corners.

It might sound easy for the drivers if they’re told that the average speed is lower than other races. But, it’s not true. The Turkish rally is held under a hot, dry climate with a temperature of nearly 30 degrees Celsius, and has a relatively low speed, making it difficult for rally cars to get some winds to cool down. This makes it difficult to cool the engines, transmissions, and brakes that heat up during the race. And the pebbles scattered all over the course are the size of an adult’s fist, making it more difficult to go through the course.

The notorious Turkish rally seems to threaten the vehicles with fist-sized stones scattered all over the course.

As such, the Turkish rally is also a place where many unexpected events occur. Looking back on the results of the 2018 season, which were included again in the WRC, we can see more accurately. Neuville, who was driving first at the SS8, broke the suspension on the driver’s side and retired. Ogier, who had taken the lead, also veered off the SS11 and crashed into a tree. He had to give up the race, too. The Hyundai team’s Mikkelsen, who took the lead again, also had the malfunctioning transmission. Eventually, the front wheels did not work, so he had to be far below the rank.

In the 2019 season, unbelievably dramatic events occurred again. The three drivers, who were in a close race by one second, had an accident. Neuville had an accident, Lappi in the Citroen team had trouble in the engine room, and Ott Tanak of Toyota had an electrical problem in his car, retiring in the end. Their rank changed a lot.

What will happen this season? Defending champion Hyundai wrapped up the fourth-round Estonian rally with a one-two finish, chasing the 2020 season-leading Toyota team by five points. Every single point matters a lot in the remaining three races.

So many unexpected events occur in the notorious Turkish rally every year, proving its harsh condition.

This season’s Turkish rally centered around Marmaris, located in southwestern Turkey, and the drivers ran a course of 223 kilometers on a total of 12 stages. As a result, the i20 coupe WRC race car, which was shown in the last Estonian rally, continued in Turkey. In Friday’s results, which ran about 25 kilometers, Hyundai’s Sebastien Loeb and Thierry Neuville finished first and second, respectively, completing their pleasant first-day races. Ott Tanak remained in eighth place, but his chance of winning remained as he was 4.8 seconds behind Neuville.

Ott Tanak, who was continuing the competition for the 2020 WRC Driver Championship, unfortunately, had to give up the Turkish rally.

As we entered the full-fledged Saturday schedule, bad luck came to the Hyundai team. The Tanak stopped at a 25.9 km point on the first stage, SS3, Saturday. Tanak and Jarveoja buried on a shoulder due to problems with the steering system, struggled to get out of the driver’s seat quickly and repair the race car, but eventually had to give up their Saturday race. On the other hand, as if to make up for teammate Tanak’s bad luck, Neuville kept his lead by winning in SS5, SS6, and SS7.

As proven in Tanak’s retirement, Saturday’s race was also tough for all the rally cars. At the SS6, Toyota’s Ogier had problems with the transmission system and even a flat tire on the driver’s side. The same team, Rovanpera, also came into the finish line with a bang on the driver’s rear wheel. The Turkish rally was a very close race – even Suninen in Ford had the front splinters fell off.

In the following SS8, the Hyundai team’s Loeb came back to second place with a surprise win. It was 33.2 seconds behind the leader Neuville. It was the moment when the Hyundai team had a chance to achieve one-two finish once again, just like the Estonia rally.

The Hyundai team did the race well, finishing first and second on Saturday’s races.

The dramatic Turkish rally showed its peak on Sunday. The first main character in the drama was Suninen of the Ford team. Severe damage to the rear suspension of the race car occurred at the 22.9 km point of the SS9, which took place on the first stage Sunday, causing it to stop. In the end, the issue prevented Suninen from completing the Turkish rally. Soon after, Toyota’s Rovanpera and Ford’s Lappi also had to change wheels in the middle of the course due to tire damage. The two players lost more than two minutes, making it impossible to lead the race.

In SS9, players had to face a variety of obstacles, including tire damage or race car defects, due to the extremely rough course.

The story did not end here. Ogier, who had been eyeing a lead in the top three, also lost time with a punctured tire. Neuville’s race car, which was leading the race by far, also failed to avoid bad luck, including a tire problem. Loeb had similar problems, who has been second. His place went down to fourth due to a burst of tires right before the finish line.

oth Neuville and Loeb could not avoid bad luck and had to give up on leading the race at SS9.

As a result, Elfyn Evans of Toyota, who passed the harsh SS9, quickly took the lead from fourth place, completely changing the game. The gap with the runner-up was 47 seconds. With only three stages left, Evans seemed to have no big problem winning the championship if he continued his steady run. On the other hand, Neuville, Loeb, and Ogier, who lost time side by side due to tire damage, had to continue their fight for second place, all being so close by less than 10 seconds.

Thierry Neuville achieved the fastest record in the last three stages of Sunday’s Turkish rally. Neuville proved the powerful performance of the i20 Coupe WRC by winning seven of the 12 stages.

The winner of the remaining competitive schedule was Thierry Neuville of the Hyundai team. Neuville had the fastest record in the remaining three stages, winning a valuable runner-up finish in the long, dramatic Turkish rally. Meanwhile, Ogier’s Yaris WRC race car, which was fiercely competing for second place, ended up stopping at SS11. The race car, which had been unstable as if power was cut off in the middle, could no longer continue its drive as white smoke eventually broke out in the engine room. It was a desperate moment for Ogier, the leader of the 2020 WRC Driver Championship. The Hyundai team Loeb, who did not miss the gap, took the remaining third place, giving the Hyundai team a second straight double podium following the Estonian rally.

The modern team’s Thierry Neuville and Sebastien Loeb finished second and third in the Turkish rally, achieving another double podium after the Estonian rally.

As evidenced by the fluctuating rankings until the end of the tournament, the Turkish rally was a series of dramatic moments. Of course, bad luck on Sunday may be taken as a rather harsh result for the Hyundai team seeking its second straight win in the WRC manufacturer category in the 2020 season. However, the Hyundai team did not lose its concentration until the end, and eventually achieved a double podium, continuing its move toward the 2020 season’s manufacturer championship.

As a result of the Turkish rally, the Hyundai team added 33 points (18 points for the second place and 15 points for the third) in the manufacturer’s sector to score 165 points, maintaining its second place in the 2020 WRC manufacturer’s championship. The difference between the leading Toyota team is nine points.

On the other hand, there has been a big change in the driver championship. Toyota’s Elfyn Evans was the only player in the 2020 WRC season to win for the second time, beating the championship leader with a total of 97 points. On the other hand, Ogier, who was taking the top spot in the driver’s category, did not get a single point in the Turkish rally on the last day due to a faulty race car, and a red light was given to his move toward the championship.

Hyundai team Ott Tanak retired on Saturday, but he earned four valuable extra points on Sunday’s final power stage after the race car rearrangement to maintain third place with a total of 70 points. In addition, Neuville, who added five bonus points at the Power stage to the runner-up finish, also saved his hopes of winning the driver championship again with 65 points.

In the eventful Turkish rally, the defending champion Hyundai team cannot afford to relax in order to achieve its second straight win in the manufacturer’s championship.

“This is also part of the rally.” As Hyundai team manager Andrea Adamo said in a statement after the match, you can’t expect only good things to happen in every WRC game. The surest way is to acknowledge that anything can happen due to the nature of the WRC, which runs on the toughest road in the world, and to prepare for the rest of the competition by further improving the completeness of the race car, hoping bad luck does not happen again. The experience and technical skills gained during this constant challenge will not only affect the results at the WRC but also Hyundai’s mass-produced vehicles.

There are only two remaining competitions: the Italian rally on Oct. 8 and the Belgian rally on Nov. 19. It is not yet known who will get the last laugh after the 2020 season WRC. With the strong performance of the i20 Coupé WRC race car, let’s hope the Hyundai team will win two consecutive WRC manufacturer’s championship with the remaining wins.