The Hyundai Shell World Rally Team has finished its first ever Rally Australia with all three Hyundai i20 WRC cars in the top ten including one in the top six, accumulating valuable experience
Hayden Paddon was involved in a close battle for sixth place throughout the day, taking the position in the penultimate stage to secure his best result in a WRC car to date
Thierry Neuville battled hard to finish seventh with some solid stage times while Aussie Chris Atkinson ended his home rally in tenth spot.
Coffs Harbour, Australia
The Hyundai Shell World Rally Team has achieved its primary objective for this weekend’s Rally Australia as all three Hyundai i20 WRC cars completed the 20-stage event inside the top ten.
On its first trip to Rally Australia, the team has worked well to get all cars to the finish and has had a positive and trouble-free final day. Hayden Paddon (#20 Hyundai i20 WRC, co-driver John Kennard) was the top finishing Hyundai i20 WRC driver, securing a strong sixth position. Thierry Neuville (#7 Hyundai i20 WRC, co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul) ended the rally in seventh with local hero Chris Atkinson (#8 Hyundai i20 WRC, co-driver Stéphane Prévot) rounding out the top ten.
Paddon was involved in a captivating battle for sixth place. The #20 crew took the position on the penultimate stage (Bucca II 10.83km) following problems for Mads Ostberg but the gap between the two drivers has been a matter of seconds throughout the entire rally. For the Kiwi crew, the sixth place represents more positive progress in the WRC and their best result to date.
Neuville continued to push hard to finish the rally in seventh position with some competitive stage times on Sunday, including third quickest in SS19. It was a measured performance from the Belgian crew following the time lost on Friday with damaged suspension.
Australian Chris Atkinson concluded his home rally, and just his second WRC event of the season with the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team, in tenth place after a tough rally. His early struggles to find a good rhythm led to an early position on the road, which has further impeded his progress. Nonetheless, his drive has helped the team to learn more about the performance of the i20 WRC on the Australian gravel surface, which will be hugely important for next season.
This weekend’s rally has been the team’s first outing on the unique Australian terrain, so the focus has been on gathering valuable experience in preparation for next season. There has still been plenty of action along the way with today’s final six stages offering plenty of excitement for the Australian fans and a lot of positives to take away for the young Hyundai Shell World Rally Team.
Team Principal Michel Nandan said: