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Hyundai enacts contingency plan after WRC Kenya fuel issue

Hyundai has put a contingency plan in place to ensure the fuel system issue that hampered World Rally Championship leader Thierry Neuville doesn’t reappear in Croatia.

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Neuville’s i20 N was struck by a fuel system issue at Safari Rally Kenya that ended any hopes of a podium finish.

The problem resulted in the Belgian losing more than 10 minutes, dropping from second to fifth overall. At the time Neuville, who leads Toyota’s Elfyn Evans by six points in the championship, felt the problem wasn’t related to the rally’s unique set of conditions.

Hyundai team principal Cyril Abiteboul says the team has addressed and understood the problem which has resulted in changes ahead of this weekend’s visit to Croatia’s asphalt stages.

“We will try to make sure he [Thierry] has the right car,” Abiteboul told Autosport. “He had lots of issue in Kenya and most of them have been well addressed and understood.

“There is no particular reason to see them happen here again, but we also saw that it was a bit of a snowball effect from Friday. The first thing we need is to have a clean Friday.

“We still have quite a few explanations [as to what happened in Kenya]. It is one of those things that is difficult to completely reproduce once you are not in Kenya anymore with the conditions we had there.

“We think it [the fuel system issues] was related to the conditions and we have made some changes and we have made a contingency plan to make sure it doesn’t happen again, but let’s see.”

Thierry Neuville, Hyundai World Rally Team

Thierry Neuville, Hyundai World Rally Team

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

After winning the only previous WRC round on asphalt this year in Monte Carlo, Neuville believes his i20 N has improved since his last year’s outing in Croatia, where he crashed out of the lead.

However, he is aware that Toyota boasts an undefeated record on Croatia’s challenging stages since the event joined the WRC schedule in 2021.

Neuville will pilot one of three i20 Ns carrying a special livery this weekend in honour of team-mate Craig Breen, who lost his life a year ago.

“We were strong last year but not that strong,” said Neuville, who was third fastest in Thursday’s shakedown behind Toyota’s Sebastien Ogier and Evans. “We were pushing hard but the car was not that great, and we were complaining a lot.

“This year we will be better, but we have to see how strong Toyota is, they have always been strong on tricky demanding tarmac stages, they have won every year.

“I feel good in the car, and I think we have improved it but is it going to be good enough, we will find out.”

While Neuville is looking to extend his championship lead, team-mate Ott Tanak says it is “critical” to deliver a “solid weekend” to ignite his championship hopes.

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

The 2019 world champion has been absent from the podium in the opening three rounds, while mistakes in Monte Carlo, Sweden and Kenya have placed the Estonian 34 points adrift of Neuville.

“It is always important to get a strong result. It has not been great and somehow it has affected the confidence, but it is critical to put a good, solid weekend together,” Tanak told Autosport.

“Some pressure is there but the feeling in the car is not too bad. I’m pretty sure if we can do the right decisions we will be on the pace.”

Read Also:

Watch: Croatia Rally Shakedown hgihlights

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