First podium of the season!

Hi everyone! I am writing to you today with a bright smile and a sombrero on my head… the same sombrero that was offered by the organisers to the top three crews. Rally Mexico really is one of a kind. People here are incredibly enthusiastic!

Tens of thousands fans partying four days long, accosting us for a selfie, an autograph or simply to encourage us. And they all are in a really good mood. It really is awesome to see the enthusiasm this rally arouses throughout the country, including in the capital, Mexico City. I personally love it. It’s a genuine energy boost! But Mexico also means unique rally conditions related to the heat and the altitude… and these were impossible to recreate during our testing in Europe.

After an excellent start, these tough conditions caused our Hyundai some trouble. During the stage El Chocolate, the altitude, the ambient heat and the twisty roads combined caused the water temperature to overheat, and the car switched to safety mode. We then had some trouble with the fuel filter, which slowed us down during the last stages and made us lose some valuable seconds. At the end of the day, we were in third position, trailing Kris Meeke by almost a minute and Seb Ogier by 30 seconds. The gap was too significant to attempt to fill it without further incident.

Thanks to the — once again — outstanding work of our mechanics, our car hit the road on Saturday and finished the rally without any more problems. With our road position, we avoided any “track sweeping” issue on the incredibly dusty roads and Thierry, who was totally in control, set some excellent times, which allowed us to finish this rally at the third place. On top of that, we did the fastest time in the Power Stage, which means 5 bonus points.

This podium rewards the work of the whole team and gives us confidence for the next rally. About that, the conference after the rally was quite interesting since Kris, Sébastien and Thierry all said that they intended to win the Tour de Corse… This should be interesting! 😀

Thanks again for your support!

Hungrier than ever!

Just this once, I’ll start this road book with the conclusion: Thierry and I are hungry! Hungry for victory, for fun during the stages and for trophies to share with our team. I wanted to make that clear before I started the recap of this Rally Sweden … We’re hungry and our appetite is intact!

The feeling was great from the moment the wheels started spinning. Just like in Monte, we instantly knew that we would perform well: the car works on the snow as well as it does on tarmac, and the first split times immediately confirmed our first impression.

Day one was amazing. The Swedish snow and ice felt like velvet under our wheels… The high-speed stages were perfect for our i20 WRC and Thierry was more focused than ever. Result was: 5 fastest out of 7 stages, and a 28s lead over Jari-Matti! We went back to Torsby’s Service Park as undisputed leaders.

On the next day, we meant to manage the stages… we were determined not to make the same mistake as in Monte Carlo. Great tactic: we never were really threatened… quite the opposite actually, since our closest pursuer was over 43s away! There was only the Super Stage left, a show stage, no longer than 2km… Then it all went wrong!

While the route wasn’t especially difficult, we slightly hit a pile of truck tyres in a left curve… Two or three more centimeters and we would’ve been OK, but this small mistake (the only one of the rally) was fatal: the steering shaft was broken… and the competition was over.

I could try to find a thousand reasons to explain this: long liaison section, tiredness, less deep concentration, bad luck or whatever, but I won’t. This is our mistake, and we take full responsibility for it.

We’re deeply disappointed, obviously. Disappointed for ourselves, for our fans… but especially for the team, who did an amazing job. We owe you a revenge and we are determined to take it starting from the next rally! In the meantime, I think this is the right moment for me to open my quote book: “It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.” I don’t know who said that but it seems quite appropriate* 😉

Since I’ve started with the conclusion, I won’t repeat it. But you’ve understood that our motivation remains strong and that we can’t wait to fight in Mexico!

Meanwhile, I hope to see you all at the rally of the Legend Boucles de Spa!

Thanks for your support!