The Hyundai Shell World Rally Team has today scored a sensational maiden victory in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with Thierry Neuville leading team-mate Dani Sordo home for an historic 1-2 finish in only the team's ninth WRC event.
The team, run by Hyundai Motorsport from its factory in Alzenau, around 225 km from Rallye Deutschland's service park in Trier, has only been in existence for just over one year and a half so today's result is even more poignant.
The script for this weekend's rally was straight out of a fairy tale: From a major crash in shakedown on Thursday that threatened Neuville's participation in the event and the mechanics working a remarkable 18 hour shift to fix the car in time for Friday morning's start, to winning the team's debut WRC event on Sunday afternoon. It has been a dramatic rally, but one from which the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team has emerged victorious.
Neuville, in the no. 7 Hyundai i20 WRC with navigator Nicolas Gilsoul beside him, put the drama of shakedown firmly behind him when the stages got underway on Friday morning. The Belgian did not put a foot wrong since and has determinedly made his way up through the classification since the opening day.
Neuville was fully in contention for a podium at the start of Sunday, embroiled in a close battle for second but the retirements of the two leading cars in consecutive stages elevated the Belgian to the rally lead. Neuville then kept his focus to bring his Hyundai i20 WRC car home for the win - his first in WRC. The Belgian brings home also two extra points for being second fastest in the Power Stage - the last stage of the rally.
Sordo, in the no. 8 Hyundai i20 WRC with navigator Marc Martí, also had a competitive rally in Germany, an event he won so memorably in 2013. The Spaniard, in his first WRC event since Argentina in May, got quickly reacquainted with the car and the team to post impressive stage times from the start of the rally.
Sordo was in the hunt for a podium at the end of Friday, but he lost a lot of time on Saturday afternoon when he aqua-planed into a spin. Nonetheless, he kept going and benefitted from others' misfortune in Sunday's opening stages to take second place behind his team mate. He then drove masterfully not only to keep the car on the road but also to defend his second place - his first podium of 2014 and contributing to the team's incredible 1-2 result
Bryan Bouffier, in the no. 20 Hyundai i20 WRC with navigator Xavier Panseri, completed Rallye Deutschland under Rally 2 regulations following his coming together with a Hinkelstein on Saturday's final stage. The mechanics worked their magic to allow the Frenchman to rejoin the rally on Sunday morning, but unfortunately he went off at the start of the Power Stage and was unable to complete the event.
The Hyundai Shell World Rally Team is understandably overjoyed with the 1-2 result and becoming a winning WRC manufacturer so early in its young programme. The team has demonstrated its intent to the WRC and shown steady improvement throughout the season but winning was never on the agenda in this learning year.
Team Principal Michel Nandan said: