Straight-talking Hyundai Motorsport boss Andrea Adamo was frank about his team’s performance following Thierry Neuville’s dramatic last stage victory in Corsica on Sunday.
Despite moving back to the top of the FIA World Rally Championship manufacturers’ standings following Neuville’s win and fourth for Dani Sordo, the Italian acknowledged the success owed more to luck than pace.
“I cannot say I’m not happy but without the punctures, we wouldn’t have won. We have to recognise that the team wasn’t at its best this weekend. I don’t think we won as Hyundai. Thierry won, Hyundai didn’t,” said Adamo.
Neuville scored an unlikely win when M-Sport Ford’s leader Elfyn Evans dropped almost 90sec with a puncture in the final Wolf Power Stage. The Belgian also benefited when a similar problem delayed then leader Ott Tänak the previous day.
“We inherited the victory as a result of a faster competitor’s misfortune. We would have finished in second place, which itself would have been an encouraging result and thanks to the fantastic efforts of Thierry and Nicolas (co-driver Gilsoul), but to win truly you have to be the fastest and on this occasion we were not.
“Taking first place is, of course, a very positive thing for our team. We have been pushing hard and this will definitely act as a morale boost, but we have to be clear with ourselves where we are performance-wise, and where we need to be,” Adamo added.
Victory promoted Neuville into the lead of the drivers’ championship after Tänak’s sixth place finish and a never-say-die second for Sébastien Ogier, who fought against a recalcitrant Citroën C3 all weekend.
Neuville felt an improvement in the i20 World Rally Car’s asphalt speed after the team dialled out some of the understeer issues that have affected it on sealed-surfaces, but Adamo called for more pace in next month’s gravel encounter at Xion Rally Argentina (25 - 28 April).
“I’m realistic. We have to focus on being more competitive,” he said.