Sordo: Hyundai needed more pace on Safari

The team's mechanical problems weren't the only issue last weeeknd according to Dani Sordo


Safari Rally Kenya was a tough event for Hyundai in so many ways.

It started with reliability issues for Esapekka Lappi, followed by a suspension failure for Thierry Neuville, and then to top it off Neuville was disqualified for illegal recceing.

But according to Dani Sordo, Hyundai’s Safari issues don’t end there.

Even putting all of the dramas above to one side, Sordo still isn’t happy, and it centers around a specific problem: the pace of the i20 N Rally1.

On its day Hyundai’s Rally1 machine is as capable as either of its rivals, but Toyota dominated in Kenya – locking out the top four.

While Sordo was the first non-Toyota car in the classification, having finished fifth, he was five minutes down on the winner.

However Sordo’s role this year isn’t necessarily to be on the leader’s pace, fighting for wins. It’s about being in the right place every weekend to bring home a decent haul of points.

DirtFish’s Colin Clark therefore suggested to Sordo at the end of the Safari Rally that ending the rally in fifth was mission accomplished and that he should be happy with the result.

Sordo didn’t agree.

He believes he got lucky and that the Hyundai still lacks speed on rough events like Safari.

“There were some problems there and yeah, if you see like this, but this has really come from [being] lucky,” Sordo explained to DirtFish.

“But yeah, like you say, we finish five. In front of us was four Toyotas and they were performing better than us in this rally.


“[Their] drivers are also very good level, but cars are doing a little bit better.

“We don’t need to be a little bit faster, we need to be much faster because I think you see the times.

“When they are fighting yesterday we were pushing and we were trying to do our job well but we were still far [away].”

Sordo doesn’t think the lack of speed is limited to his own driving. It’s something affecting all three Hyundai drivers, although he did add that he could have possibly found some extra himself.


He said: “Looks like all the drivers of the Hyundais, they need a little more performance at least in this rally.

“The other drivers, I can say nothing because I don’t know how the others drive.

“I can say myself, for sure, you can always go faster and you can always push yourself more, no? But yeah, in this rally I think it was a compromise between the car and the driver and ability.”

It’s hard to get a complete gauge on Hyundai’s true pace on demanding events like Safari and Sardinia given its lack of consistency on those rallies.

It was right there in Sardinia, recording a 1-2 finish, but on the Safari it couldn’t cope with the Toyotas.

Even in Portugal, where it scored a double podium with Sordo and Lappi, it only topped the timesheet on five of the 19 stages, proving how inconsistent it’s been.

This isn’t lost on Hyundai team principal Cyril Abiteboul, who says the team must learn its lessons, adapt and overcome.


“I think you need to take every single event a bit as it comes and take the lesson of each of them,” Abiteboul told DirtFish.

“Sardinia was a lesson of a number of things. From a strategy perspective, I think we’ve done a number of right decisions and then also really pushing on the Saturday which was really the opposite of the previous event in Portugal.

“Portugal was a lesson, Sardinia was a lesson and here was another lesson.

“I think as long as we make use of whatever circumstance we are given I think it’s important, and being very new in this world of rally and this team of Hyundai, I think it’s important.

“In particular, there were a number of things we thought were addressed and clearly are not, so that’s important.”