Hyundai Motorsport team principal Andrea Adamo has taken the blame for the “stupid” tire choice that left his drivers trailing the Toyota’s on the Monte Carlo Rally’s Friday morning loop.
On Thursday evening it was Hyundai’s Ott Tänak who led the rally after the first two stages, with team-mate Thierry Neuville 16 seconds back in fourth and Dani Sordo 42.7s back in sixth after a reported rear differential problem.
But after Friday morning’s loop of three stages, Tänak has slipped to third, 24.8s off Toyota’s rally leader Sébastien Ogier while Neuville and Sordo one and two minutes behind respectively.
Neuville had a spin while using one studded winter tire on the rear of his car, and Tänak had several wide moments.
“[It was] simply very slow with Ott, who was having the same tire choice as the leading cars so we should have been close,” Adamo told WRC All Live.
“And with the others we did a very stupid tire choice. OK, now it’s easy to say, but it’s my job to avoid this kind of mistake, I was not able to avoid so in the end it is my mistake.”
Hyundai’s tire strategy was split, putting Tänak on what should have been a better pick of rubber given there was less ice and snow on the roads than expected. As a result, Adamo found his time loss unexplainable.
“I think it’s a sum up of things. Difficult to point one thing on top of the other so it means that it’s even more tricky to understand why there are so many things.”
Tänak added his own input, saying: “I can’t say I’m not trying, I’m definitely trying. In some places it’s just sometimes you have some moments that you don’t expect at all, and it just tells me that obviously I don’t know everything what is going to or can happen.
“Today, in places actually the conditions were much more consistent, but then there were just again places where the grip changes a lot and basically these places are difficult to figure out at the moment.”
One of his ‘moments’ was caught on camera, as he slid all the way through a medium-speed corner. Tänak did not enjoy it at all.
He’s had less problems to deal with than Neuville though, who is still building a relationship with his last-minute replacement co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe.
“Today the conditions were more tricky, and in the dark, so for sure the start this morning was really challenging for him as well,” Neuville said.
“Not only for me, but even for him. But I think we made the best out of the loop considering we made the wrong tire choice this morning which we found out during the loop.
“We expected to do a good choice this morning, but obviously it wasn’t, there was much less ice than expected in the first stage. We continually lost time on the two other stages. But yeah, Martijn is improving. Still a bit of work, but he’s very motivated and he knows what I’m asking for.”
Sordo was looking to find confidence after his Thursday issues, but instead had an even harder time on the tires chosen and said he had “no confidence” and expects a “really tough” afternoon on Friday’s final two stages.