Hyundai team principal Michel Nandan wants to banish memories of last year’s disappointing Neste Rally Finland as his squad looks to consolidate its lead in both WRC championships there next week (26 - 29 July).
The Korean manufacturer heads to Finland’s fast gravel stages leading the drivers’ and manufacturers’ standings by 27 and 28 points respectively.
But Nandan knows his team must improve on its 2017 efforts when their title challenges took a knock as all three i20 WRCs missed their podium target by some distance. He acknowledged solid points towards this year’s title push are an absolute priority.
“We would obviously like to score our first Finland podium, but more important is getting all three of our cars into strong points-scoring positions,” he said.
Although Thierry Neuville edged into the championship lead last year, sixth was a disappointing result for him. Dani Sordo finished ninth and Hayden Paddon twice ran under Rally 2 before retiring after the final stage.
Hyundai is currently the form team after back-to-back wins for Neuville in Portugal and Italy. Nandan hopes the Belgian, Andreas Mikkelsen and Paddon will be able to find improved pace, rhythm and confidence next week.
“We have had time to reflect on a positive first half of the year but now there is a lot of hard work to come, starting in Finland,” Nandan explained. “It has not been a rally to favour our team in previous years, but we will be doing all we can to turn that around.
“We don’t take our championship position for granted because our rivals will once again be pushing hard, and fortunes can change quickly.”
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