Hyundai Motorsport has taken first place in the 2021 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in Arctic Rally Finland, the second round of the season.
Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja won with 17.5-seconds and Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe also Hyundai took third place. In fourth place are Craig Breen and Paul Nagle another Hyundai team.
Tänak said: “This victory is very important and allows us to take away good points for the championship. We came to Finland – the home country of one of our closest rivals – so the pressure was on for sure. We knew it would be complicated to take on the fight but, in the end, we did a very good weekend. The pre-event test was held in very different conditions, so we didn’t really know what to expect.
“I was pushing the engineers quite a lot, but their hard work really paid off. We tried some new things in shakedown, and it worked out nicely. This has been an amazing place to come for a rally, one of the best for a winter event; there’s no place where you can have more snow and the characteristics of the road have been very special.”
Neuville commented: “I am very satisfied with our weekend and third position, even if second was so close. We kept believing right up to the end, but everyone was pushing hard on the Power Stage, so it wasn’t possible to grab second position. Still, we have taken some good points for both championships, which were really needed after Monte-Carlo. The partnership with Martijn, too, was better. We still have some communication issues to resolve, to get the wording clearer and for me to understand better, but I’m sure we’ll be more competitive with that.”
Breen stated: “I am happy to finish this rally with fourth place. In all honesty, it’s been a tough weekend. I’ve felt mentally – after delivering so much in Estonia last season – that the goalposts had moved, so I wanted to win, but I also have to remember my experience is still a bit on the low side. It definitely gives me motivation to have made progress today.
“We spent some time in the regroup to analyse where I was losing time compared to the others. Thanks to the engineers, we were able to identify a few things that, maybe due to my driving style, were upsetting the car – erasing some traits that I’ve carried for a few years. I knew the speed was there, so it was nice to score some points for the team in the Power Stage and to end the weekend on a positive note.”
Team principal, Andrea Adamo said: “After Monte-Carlo, I said only a win would have been enough to allow us to come back to the level we need to be. We needed to be more focused and better prepared. The team did an amazing job, and this result reflects that. We understood our faults, me first of all, and we responded in the way we needed. Winning and finishing first are very different concepts. Today, we won.
“Ott and Martin did an incredible job from start to finish, and the victory was truly well deserved. Thierry and Martijn, starting third on the road we mustn’t forget, fought like hell until the very end to support our manufacturers’ championship efforts. I would have loved to have seen Craig and Paul fast all weekend, like they were in the Power Stage, but they finished fourth, which was what we asked of them today.”
The next rally will be at the Croatia Rally on 22-25 April.