Hyundai drivers proud of risky Sardinia strategy

The team took risks with its tire strategy compared to the others, but was handsomely rewarded

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Sometimes in life you need to gamble. You need to rock up to the casino, throw everything on red and hope for the best.

Perhaps that’s reckless, but as Esapekka Lappi explained at the end of Rally Italy Sardinia, it also pays with big rewards if the dice rolls your way.

And that’s exactly how it panned out for Hyundai last weekend.

The team threw caution to the wind when it came to tire strategy in Sardinia on both Friday and Saturday, but both decisions proved to be the right ones.

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As things began to unravel for Hyundai’s rivals – including Sébastien Ogier who crashed out of the lead – both Lappi and Thierry Neuville got their heads down, kept out of trouble and maneuvered themselves into total control of the rally come Sunday morning.

And while those retirements could be used as a reason why Lappi and team-mate Neuville ended up claiming the top two spots in Italy, Lappi couldn’t disagree more.

“Firstly, a very very strong finish for our team with P1 and 2. Very important,” Lappi explained.

“There has been a lot of things happening in the last few months in our team so very important to get, well we got two and three on the last rally and now one and two which is really nice.

“Good reward for the mechanics, the engineers, everyone involved.

“Yeah, we had a couple of risky strategies with the tires Friday afternoon, was a bit risky but it paid off. Yesterday afternoon we sacrificed all the tires that we had and that paid off as well.

“So sometimes the higher risk is high rewards as well. So really strong result.”

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Hyundai might have been willing to gamble in Sardinia – Neuville going “all in” with the use of his softs on Saturday – it quit while it was ahead.

Neuville could have realistically fought for the powerstage victory on Sunday but he thought better of it, with the rally victory meaning more – especially after recent results haven’t gone his way.

“Yeah very good result for us after a challenging weekend as everybody could see,” Neuville told DirtFish.

“I would have loved to take more points in the powerstage but obviously it was too risky for us with the tires we had on the car, two spare wheels and the tricky conditions which came 50 minutes before the stage started.

“Yeah, there was no reason for us to push more and we just cruised through to get the 25 points and secure the 18th victory.”