Rally News

Abiteboul hints at Hyundai WRC team order deployment in Portugal

Cyril Abiteboul, Team principal Hyundai World Rally Team

The South Korean marque will head into the final four stages with its part-time driver Dani Sordo sitting second, 57.5s adrift of Toyota’s runaway leader Kalle Rovanpera, but only 11.1s ahead of Thierry Neuville, the team’s highest-placed driver in the championship.

Its second full-time driver Esapekka Lappi is fourth, 2.3s behind Neuville after losing grip of third across Saturday afternoon.

Hyundai has history of attempting to deploy them orders to favour Neuville already this season when it tried to move the Belgian into second at Rally Sweden.

On that occasion the bid failed when an error from Neuville in the Power Stage meant Craig Breen finished second, ahead of the Belgian, negating a 10s penalty for checking into the final stage late on purpose to switch the running order.

Asked if team orders could return on Sunday, Abiteboul said: “I think everyone knows and everyone shares the same objective.

“We are one team, we have one goal and the three crews know exactly what needs to happen come Sunday. I think it is good to leave it up to them to find a way to execute it in the nicest possible way.

“We have the Power Stage and I would like it to be interesting for Dani and Esapekka with in mind what obviously needs to be the running order when it come to the finish.”

Cyril Abiteboul, Team principal Hyundai World Rally Team

Photo by: Fabien Dufour / Hyundai Motorsport

While Abiteboul is pleased to have all three crews fighting in the top five after a brutal rally thus far, he is concerned by the sizeable gap to the rally leader.

“It is good to have three cars in the top five cars and it is nice to have the three cars back at base tonight,” he added. “I cannot overlook the gap ahead of us as we are not just here to participate.

“We have been solid podium contenders so far this year and we are yet to have our first win. I would have liked it to be here.

“It is very clear in normal conditions it is not going to happen but if you ask me, ‘what is the feeling tonight?’ I’m pretty upset with that one minute gap ahead.

“Everyone knows our target is to win that title that we all think we can get, and we know what it will take to make that happen.”

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