Nightmares weren’t exactly uncommon at Hyundai early last year. Sleeping’s become a considerably less troublesome prospect since then. And now team principal Cyril Abiteboul has a dream.
It’s a dream about a Sunday, a ceremony: three steps and three Hyundais. In short, his vision is centered on a repeat of last year’s Acropolis 1-2-3 for the Korean marque.
“Our dream is to repeat last year’s result,” he said.
The chance of that? Let’s listen to the drivers.
Last year’s Greek winner, Neuville first.
“Hopefully,” grinned the Belgian, “it is something we can repeat.
“I would rate Acropolis Rally as one of the harder events on the WRC calendar. It’s a bit of an endurance race across three days, three different areas, three different types of stages, which all feature rough conditions and hot temperatures.
“You need reliability, a strong car and the right setup for every challenge. If you can be comfortable in the car in every circumstance, it’s easier to go fast.
“Last year, we were much stronger than our competitors, so we were able to secure a 1-2-3. It was a great achievement for the whole team, for the brand, and for us drivers as well – being part of Hyundai Motorsport’s first 1-2-3 was amazing.”
Reasonably confident then.
What about Lappi? His last rough rally outing wasn’t exactly ideal. Remember the propshaft thing? His car developed an insatiable appetite for transmission parts, which wasn’t ideal for furthering his understanding of the long-travel i20.
Despite that, he’s on the same page when it comes to the top-three.
“The goal,” he said, “is to make it onto the podium. That’s where I want to be on Sunday, so this needs to be what we push for. After Safari Rally Kenya, Acropolis Rally is the toughest event of the season. It hasn’t been too gruelling in previous years as they have made a lot of repairs to the roads.
“You need to stay out of trouble and try to keep the car on the clean lines to get maximum grip all the time.”
The top-three from Lamia last year is still fresh in Dani Sordo’s mind too.
“It would be amazing if we can repeat that result,” said the Spaniard. “But our goal is to get the best out of the car, keep it clean and score as many points as we can.”
Maybe not quite as self-assured as his team-mates, but Sordo has finished in the top four – and on the podium twice – on his last three visits to the Acropolis.
Will Cyril’s dream come true? We’ll see on Sunday.