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    The Good, The Unhealthy and an intra staff squabble

    High Performer – Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe

    It had been nearly a yr since Thierry Neuville and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe final tasted victory, on Rally Spain October final yr to be exact. So climbing the highest step of the rostrum in Greece final weekend was described as a “aid”.

    Neuville has been knocking on the door on a number of events this season, however has typically been let down by fragile equipment. That stated, driver error whereas main in Belgium maybe robbed him of his finest likelihood of a win previous to final weekend’s success.

    In Greece, nonetheless, Neuville delivered. The Belgian duo scored extra stage wins (5) than anybody else as they led house a history-making maiden 1-2-3 for Hyundai, forward of Ott Tanak and Dani Sordo. Neuville drove well by way of arguably the roughest gravel phases of the season whereas his rivals fell by the wayside one after the other.

    Finally the important thing to victory was his capability to stay solely 16.0s adrift of the lead battle after being fourth on the highway on Friday. Whereas early leaders Sebastien Loeb and Pierre-Louis Loubet each hit bother, Neuville was there to capitalise, and regardless of some overheating points his i20 N proved to be among the many most resilient.

    Whereas the victory was ultimately secured as soon as Hyundai deployed staff orders to safeguard its 1-2-3 end, Neuville had constructed up a 25s lead over Tanak earlier than the decision was made forward of the rally’s penultimate stage. This was the proper response from Neuville after the agony of letting a house victory slip from his grasp in Belgium.

    The headline-making staff orders spat between himself and Ott Tanak may have proved a distraction, however Neuville blocked the inner politics from his thoughts and duly delivered.

    “It has been a troublesome season up to now and to get the victory after a really troublesome weekend in Belgium is a aid,” stated Neuville. “An important factor is we have now a 1-2-3 for the staff – in any case these years we lastly received it and it is a historic second for the model and the staff. Everyone has labored laborious for this and it is a good reward.”

    Tanak was denied victory by team orders to hold station, but won the power stage to maximise his haul after mechanical troubles early on

    Tanak was denied victory by staff orders to carry station, however gained the ability stage to maximise his haul after mechanical troubles early on

    Picture by: Fabien Dufour / Hyundai Motorsport

    Honourable mentions

    There are a number of drivers worthy of a particular point out following their heroics on the Acropolis.

    Firstly, Tanak as soon as once more outlined his pure expertise and distinctive capability to drive round mechanical points. On Friday the 2019 world champion was with out the usage of his hybrid increase, however by some means managed to drop solely 31.0s to then-leader Loeb on the finish of the day.

    Differential points hampered Tanak on the Saturday, however once more the Estonian remained within the combat for the lead battle earlier than the staff known as off the combat between him and Neuville for the victory on Sunday. Tanak was understandably sad with the choice to carry station, being the best-placed driver from the staff within the championship standings, and labelled the choice “a disgrace” to be denied a “honest combat”.

    To his credit score, he left with the utmost factors he may muster by successful the rally-ending powerstage to shut to inside 53 factors of championship chief Kalle Rovanpera, who left the door open after his personal struggles in Greece.

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    Hyundai’s Dani Sordo once more proved his worth too, the Spaniard quietly going about his enterprise to finish Hyundai’s 1-2-3. This was his fifth consecutive podium from the WRC occasions he has contested, stretching again to final yr’s Rally Spain.

    On the finish of final yr Pierre-Louis Loubet’s WRC future regarded bleak after a disastrous marketing campaign with 2C Competitors. That season ended with the Frenchman lacking the ultimate two rounds of the season resulting from a damaged hip, sustained after being hit by a highway automobile when crossing a avenue in Paris.

    Loubet led a WRC rally for the first time after a scrap with Loeb on Friday before a puncture dropped him behind the Hyundai trio

    Loubet led a WRC rally for the primary time after a scrap with Loeb on Friday earlier than a puncture dropped him behind the Hyundai trio

    Picture by: McKlein / Motorsport Photographs

    Thrown a lifeline by M-Sport, the 2019 WRC2 champion seems a unique driver in 2022 and in Greece he confirmed that he could possibly be an actual contender sooner or later. The 25-year-old scored his maiden WRC stage win, and took the lead on Friday earlier than backing that up with a second triumph within the following stage.

    Loubet may have been a contender for a podium had he not suffered a puncture on Saturday that dropped him from second to seventh. He went on to steer M-Sport’s cost by equalling his profession finest end of fourth.

    At 48 years previous, nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb stays a pressure to be reckoned with, and rolled again the years to attain 4 stage wins to steer the rally on the finish of Friday. Whereas the Frenchman was aided by an advantageous highway place, he confirmed his tempo was real on Saturday morning earlier than an alternator failure robbed M-Sport one other shot at victory.

    Likewise, Craig Breen deserves credit score for ending his barren run of outcomes with a reputable fifth that would have been upgraded had he not suffered a puncture on Friday.  

    Lastly, the constant Robert Virves emerged as a driver to maintain any eye on sooner or later after securing the Junior WRC crown by scoring his maiden win within the collection.

    Hyundai delivered a podium clean sweep for the first time in the WRC

    Hyundai delivered a podium clear sweep for the primary time within the WRC

    Picture by: Crimson Bull Content material Pool

    Crew of the Week: Hyundai Motorsport

    It’s laborious to think about a worse begin to a WRC season than the one Hyundai endured at Monte Carlo in January this yr. Its severely rushed and under-developed i20 N was each unreliable and lacked pace.

    Neuville battled by way of reliability points to complete sixth, nearly eight minutes adrift. Tanak crashed out, whereas the staff was compelled to withdraw Oliver Solberg resulting from sickness from the fumes he had inhaled from contained in the cockpit.

    Quick ahead to September and Hyundai delivered its first ever 1-2-3 to mark not solely its finest ever consequence within the WRC, however the first time the marque has gained three consecutive rallies. Its fourth win of the season additionally matched its tally for many wins in a single season. The turnaround, amongst inside administration struggles, is nothing in need of unbelievable.

    Hyundai has by some means managed to show the troublesome i20 N into a real challenger to pacesetters Toyota. Few would have predicted that its often-fragile equipment would show to be essentially the most resilient machine on the Acropolis – Europe’s roughest rally – after Toyota had locked out the highest 4 on the Safari.

    Hyundai’s 1-2-3 was dampened by a staff orders squabble, however it shouldn’t detract from the job undertaken by the staff to remodel its fortunes after such a woeful begin to the season. Nevertheless, the decision to not change its drivers Neuville and Tanak may show essential if it needs to problem for a drivers’ and producers’ double, and maybe maintain onto Tanak for 2023.

    “What an historic second for our staff and Hyundai, the primary time ever that we have now scored a triple podium,” stated Moncet. “Few would have guess on us in the beginning of the season however right here we’re, again.

    “Nonetheless, we have to push and to make use of the optimistic momentum we’ve constructed up as additional motivation. Thanks to all of the individuals supporting us, and above all to these in our manufacturing facility. Reliability has confirmed once more to be one of many keys; our automobile has improved so much on this facet since Monte-Carlo.”

    In distinction, it was Toyota’s worst spherical of the season thus far because it struggled for tempo and reliability, with Takamoto Katsuta its finest finisher in sixth. M-Sport additionally confirmed promise however once more misfortune and reliability proved its Achilles’ heel.

    Loeb became the oldest driver ever to lead a WRC event on Friday before alternator trouble put him out

    Loeb turned the oldest driver ever to steer a WRC occasion on Friday earlier than alternator bother put him out

    Picture by: Crimson Bull Content material Pool

    Moments of heartbreak

    The Acropolis proved a troublesome nut to crack, leaving a number of WRC crews to ponder what may have been.

    After lighting up the timing screens, Loeb had his sights on a fourth profession Acropolis win, having change into the oldest driver to ever lead a WRC spherical on Friday. However frantic work to restore an alternator in the end led to retirement from the lead on Saturday. Likewise, a puncture for Loubet resulted in double heartbreak for M-Sport after it held a 1-2 on Friday.


    Toyota additionally had its fair proportion of heartbreak as a gas stress situation for Esapekka Lappi dropped the Finn out of second, whereas Elfyn Evans retired from fourth resulting from a turbo situation on Sunday.

    Nevertheless, throwing away the possibility of a WRC2 class win in entrance of 64,500 individuals inside Athens’ Olympic stadium in the course of the rally’s first stage marked a second to overlook for Andreas Mikkelsen.

    Rovanpera was fortunate to keep going after bashing a tree, although the damage did cost him a chance of a top-10 finish

    Rovanpera was lucky to maintain going after bashing a tree, though the harm did price him an opportunity of a top-10 end

    Picture by: Toyota Racing

    Fortunate escapes

    Championship chief Kalle Rovanpera can depend himself fortunate to some extent that sideswiping a tree, like Colin McRae did 20 years in the past on the 2002 Acropolis, didn’t lead to a extra severe accident. The Finn was capable of limp again to service and left the rally having salvaged 4 powerstage factors.


    In the meantime, WRC2 driver Chris Ingram was lucky to flee unscathed from this scary roll down a mountain facet.


    High tweets

    Loeb added one other file to his prolonged checklist of World Rally Championship achievements.


    The Acropolis is called the Rally of Gods – and it is easy to see why. 


    Sizzling photographs

    Craig Breen, Paul Nagle, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

    Craig Breen, Paul Nagle, M-Sport Ford World Rally Crew Ford Puma Rally1

    Picture by: M-Sport

    Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

    Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, Hyundai World Rally Crew Hyundai i20 N Rally1

    Picture by: Fabien Dufour / Hyundai Motorsport

    Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

    Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Crew Hyundai i20 N Rally1

    Picture by: Crimson Bull Content material Pool

    Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

    Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

    Picture by: Toyota Racing

    Dani Sordo, Candido Carrera, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

    Dani Sordo, Candido Carrera, Hyundai World Rally Crew Hyundai i20 N Rally1

    Picture by: Austral / Hyundai Motorsport

    High Video

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