Thierry Neuville and Hayden Paddon are hoping they can extract some much-needed grip from Hyundai’s New Generation i20 WRC when the series returns to gravel action at October’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB (27 - 30 October).
Both men complained from a lack of traction and grip at Neste Rally Finland and, although they finished fourth and fifth respectively – Neuville getting the nod over his Hyundai Shell World Rally Team counterpart by a mere 2.3 seconds – they both felt their performance was hampered by the same handling issue.
Neuville told WRC.com: “We were missing some traction and general grip. That’s why we were not able to fight for the win. It was mostly the rear of the car where we were struggling.
“I had to drive very sideways and in Finland the road is very hard and there is no loose gravel at the exit of the corner to slow down the sliding of the rear. We went wide every time and couldn’t keep the inside of the corner. That’s why we lost time.”
Paddon echoed his team-mate’s frustrations. “We’re lacking lateral grip in general with this car, especially when second on the road. We haven’t done any work with the car on loose surfaces and there’s just got no grip or traction – we’re all over the place,” the YPF Rally Argentina winner explained.
Despite the handling limitations they had to deal with in Finland, both men felt they were evenly matched and said they enjoyed the battle that unfolded on the stages.
“The fight with Hayden showed that we were both pushing very hard and being separated by tenths or never more than 1.5s meant it was a hard fight and very tough,” Neuville said.
The Hyundai squad will have plenty of time to understand how it can get more performance from its New Generation i20 WRC on loose surface stages. The next three events in Germany, China and France all run entirely on asphalt. The following round in Spain is mostly asphalt, although the route does contain some gravel stages on the first day.