Hyundai team principal Andrea Adamo has dismissed any suggestion that Rally Itally winner Dani Sordo could be asked to take a penalty so that Thierry Neuville can increase his drivers’ points haul from Sardinia.
Questions regarding what Hyundai would do regarding team orders have been rife since Saturday, with Sordo out front and Neuville battling eventual third-place finisher Sébastien Ogier for second spot.
While Neuville was able to take second from Ogier on the last stage of the rally by one second, Sordo’s margin of victory was only 5.1s, making a tactical penalty to demote him behind Neuville without also dropping behind Ogier impossible.
The manner in which a penalty would be applied to hand Neuville the win would likely come through a late check-in penalty, where 10s is added to the overall rally time for each minute a competitor is late for a time control.
Such a move would drop Sordo to third and not second, thus costing Hyundai points in the constructors’ championship race against Toyota.
“Look the gaps. You don’t need to be Einstein to understand it’s difficult to play a bit,” said Adamo when asked if Sordo would be moved aside for Neuville to inherit the win.
Hyundai’s 1-2 finish in Italy means it takes a seven-point lead into Ypres Rally over Toyota, despite Toyota pairing Elfyn Evans and Ogier remaining first and second in the drivers’ championship.
But a switch to hand Neuville extra points that demotes Sordo to third would reduce that gap to only a single point, with Adamo previously stressing that the manufacturers’ title is his main target.
Adamo also confessed to being worried Sordo would fail to hold on to victory, having lost nearly half a minute to Neuville and Ogier over the course of Sunday’s four stages.
“I have to say, I will kick a bit Dani because between 34 seconds leading or whatever it is to six seconds, he was playing a bit too much with my heart,” he said.
Neuville currently stands 24 points behind championship leader Evans with two rallies remaining, with Sordo’s win marking his first points of the 2020 season.