Double podium in Sweden | Hyundai N

Double podium in Sweden | Hyundai N

There’s no banking on success when it comes to the snow-lined roads of Rally Sweden, but for our team, this year’s edition was full of positives.

In their first WRC event of the season, Craig and James earned a hard-fought second place. Thierry and Martijn were only 1.3s further back in third place, making it a double podium for our team - with Esapekka and Janne taking maximum points in the Power Stage.

“To be back battling at the front of the WRC has been absolutely brilliant,” summarised Craig. Our Irish crew were on the pace from the opening day of the rally, taking three stage wins to move into an early lead.

Unlucky SS13

Saturday’s stage 13 marked a turning point as Esapekka/Janne picked up a tyre issue that sent them into a snowbank. They were stuck for seven minutes despite the heroic efforts of spectators, who eventually helped them to escape.

As that was happening, Craig/James had to slow down to pass their team-mates safely, while also battling hybrid and tyre problems themselves. It left them on the back foot for the following stages and dropped them to second.

Thierry and Martijn had a tough start to the weekend, including being one of the first on the road on Friday. Their comeback started on Saturday with four stage wins as they moved from seventh up to third. “Since we got better grip, we have been capable of showing our speed,” said Thierry.

Esapekka/Janne were also on a fightback after their snowbank excursion, setting their sights on the Power Stage. It was one of three targets for our team on the final day, which worked out wonderfully. Our Finns showed why they had been in podium contention with a fine stage time. “I didn’t think we had done enough, but in the end, we made it and gained some extra points. We need to build on this for Mexico, even if it will be an entirely different type of rally,” said Esapekka.

Comeback stories

On Sunday morning, Thierry/Martijn picked up another stage win in SS17, the second pass of the Västervik stage. We were aiming to secure our double podium result but also saw an opportunity to support Thierry in the drivers’ title fight. Together with the crews, we made a tactical decision to switch positions for the Power Stage.

In the end, the pendulum swung back into the favour of Craig/James who reclaimed their original position. “Massive thanks to the team for putting their faith in us, and to James for a faultless job. I am over the moon to be back with this amazing team and car,” said Craig

“After a difficult Friday, in which we were one of the first on the road, I was not expecting this great result,” said Thierry. “To come back to third place is incredible.”

Our Team Principal Cyril concluded: “We’re all still smiling, including Thierry who made a fantastic comeback. Craig has just been mega all weekend, in terms of his speed and performance, but also his attitude in understanding the team situation. We shifted EP’s strategy to focus on the Power Stage, and it was brilliant to see that plan unfolding today with him taking maximum points. Overall, a tremendous team result.”

The 2023 WRC season moves to Mexico (March 16-19) for the third round of the championship and the first to take place on gravel.

Final Overall Classification - Rally Sweden

  • 1 O. Tänak / M. Järveoja (Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid) 2:25:54.5
  • 2 C. Breen / J. Fulton (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid) +18.7
  • 3 T. Neuville / M. Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid) +20.0
  • 4 K. Rovanperä / J. Halttunen (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid) +25.1
  • 5 E. Evans / S. Martin (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid) +1:24.0
  • 6 P. L. Loubet / N. Gilsoul (Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid) +5:59.0
  • 7 E. Lappi / J. Ferm (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid) +7:42.4
  • 8 O. Solberg / E. Edmondson (Škoda Fabia RS) +7:48.1
  • 9 O. Veiby / T. Eriksen (Volkswagen Polo GTI) +8:30.4
  • 10 S. Pajari / E. Mälkönen (Škoda Fabia RS) +9:03.2

2023 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers’ Standings

After round 2

  • 1 Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team 80
  • 2 Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team 66
  • 3 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 51

2023 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers’ Standings

After round 2

  • 1 O. Tänak 41
  • 2 K. Rovanperä 38
  • 3 T. Neuville 32
  • 4 E. Evans 29
  • 5 S. Ogier 26
  • 6 C. Breen 19
  • 7 E. Lappi 15
  • 8 T. Katsuta 8
  • 9 P.L Loubet 8
  • 10 D. Sordo 6

All results remain subject to official FIA confirmation.