Croatia Rally – Day One Report

Croatia Rally – Day One Report

Zagreb, Croatia April 19, 2024
Hyundai Motorsport has made an auspicious start to its Croatia Rally campaign, with Thierry Neuville ending the first day of competition in a joint lead with Elfyn Evans.
Friday opened with a loop of the longest stage of the rally, Krašić – Sošice (SS1/8, 23.63km), before covering another 96.11km of competitive distance over a further seven stages: Jaškovo – Mali Modruš Potok (SS2/7, 9.48km), Ravna Gora – Skrad (SS3/6, 10.13km) and Platak (SS4/5, 16.63km).
From the very first moment, Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe set the pace and remained at the front of the field over seven of the day’s eight tests.
A puncture on the second stage of the afternoon loop meant that the crew dropped 10 seconds to Evans, closing the gap to just 0.1 seconds.
After briefly losing the lead of the event, a fierce performance on SS8 Krašić – Sošice 2 enabled the Belgians to regain that lost ground and end the day on level times with Evans.
Although it was a challenging opening day for the Estonians, there were signs of promise across the stages.
Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja broke into the top-three stage times for the first time on SS2 Jaškovo – Mali Modruš Potok 1, before repeating this feat another two times.
They end the day in fourth.
It was a frustrating Friday for Norwegians Andreas Mikkelsen and Torstein Eriksen in their second WRC contention of the year.
The crew was compromised by the unpredictable surfaces, as well as a mistake on on SS1 Krašić – Sošice 1 that immediately placed them on the back foot.
The crew will be focused on improving on its seventh place in the standings in what is set to be an unpredictable Saturday.

Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (#11 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)
Belgians claimed four stage wins on Friday
Puncture on SS6 lost the Belgians a small advantage in the classification
Neuville said: “We gave it everything in every stage and now we are equal with Elfyn overnight. Despite this, we still lost important seconds this afternoon with our puncture, and we struggled generally throughout the day with the balance of the car and road conditions. We knew this afternoon would also be tricky as we were the car that was clearing the roads, so there were no lines for us. Generally, we can be happy with the overall result, and tomorrow we will fight to improve our advantage.”

Crew Notes: Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (#8 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)
#8 crew claimed three top-three stage times on Friday on SS2, SS6 and SS7
Estonians lie in fourth with goal to move into podium positions on Saturday
Tänak said: “At some points we were really frustrated, and our morning was going really downhill. The first loop was quite a struggle; I was fighting with the car while trying to set better times and that caused me to have some moments. Only this afternoon did things come together a bit more and become more consistent in the car. We still didn’t have too much confidence to be committed, but tomorrow we will get back in the car for another show.”

Crew Notes: Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (#9 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)
Challenging opening day in Norwegian crew’s second WRC outing of 2024
Crew focused on finding confidence on Saturday
Mikkelsen said: “It’s been a tough day. We were hoping to be fighting further up the field, but we are starting to get more confident and gaining the speed to compete. I am having some moments inside the car and I feel like it’s not working as it should be, so we will analyse and sleep on it and hopefully we’ll go better tomorrow. The most important thing is to get a good feeling in the car, which I had in Alba, because today it doesn’t feel right. We will refocus and come back stronger tomorrow.”

Hyundai Motorsport President and Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul said: “At the end of day one here at Croatia Rally, we feel mild satisfaction. On the one hand, Thierry is leading the classification, but obviously it could have been even better had we not lost time due to the puncture in the afternoon loop. Ott and Andreas clearly struggled during the day to realise their individual targets; in fact, all three drivers never felt at one with the car, which in a rally like Croatia is crucial. You need to be very committed, so when that is missing it can cost you a lot. We will see how we can improve this for tomorrow, but as we expect the conditions to be totally different, we will be starting from square one again. Hopefully, we can build on what we have learned today and improve on our positions.”

Saturday at a Glance
Eight stages feature on Saturday’s itinerary, totalling a competitive distance of 108.76km.
Conditions are set to be considerably more temperamental, with rain expected to fall throughout the day.

Classification after Day One
1 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid 1:05:15
2 E. Evans S. Martin Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid +0.00
3 S. Ogier V. Landais Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid +6.6
4 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid +41.1
5 A. Fourmaux A. Coria Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid +52.7
6 T. Katsuta A. Johnston Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid +1:37.8
7 A. Mikkelsen T. Eriksen Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid +2:37.8
8 G. Munster L. Louka Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid +3:07.3
9 N. Gryazin K. Aleksandrov Škoda Fabia RS +3:48.3
10 Y. Rossel A. Dunand Citroën C3 +4:19.4

Hyundai Motorsport

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