Hyundai's first Rally1 Victory in Sardinia

After encountering a difficult start to 2022 with the South Korean marque beset by challenges that stem from being the last of the three manufacturers to commit to the new hybrid regulations, delaying the development of its new i20 N, Ott Tanak's conclusive victory on Rally Italia was a great relief to Hyundai.

The team has been constantly playing catch up with the development of its car, and has been hit by several reliability issues during the first four events of the season. The scale of the problem was evident at the Monte Carlo season opener when Thierry Neuville suffered damper and hybrid issues, Ott Tanak crashed out, and Oliver Solberg was forced to withdraw after inhaling exhaust fumes that had entered his cockpit.

Since then the team has steadily improved the pace of its car, scoring podiums in Sweden (second), Croatia (second and third) and Portugal (third) but reliability issues have remained. These problems again emerged in Sardinia this weekend as Neuville and Tanak suffered transmission issues. But the cancellation of Friday's final two stages limited the damage as the team was able repair the issue on Tanak's car to keep the 2019 world champion in contention.

After main rival Esapekka Lappi crashed his Toyota out, Tanak was then able to score his first win since February 2021. Craig Breen was second in M-Sport's Kuga and Tanak's teammate Dani Sordo secured a double podium in third. Asked if the stellar result could help offer some clarity on his future within the team, as a full-time appointment continues to be sought to replace Adamo, deputy team director Julien Moncet replied: "That is a good question, I would say yes but we will see."

Hyundai is 39 points adrift of Toyota in the constructors' championship standings as the season reaches its halfway point at the Safari Rally later this month.

5th June, 2022

Lappi Holds Narrow Rally Italia Lead

Esapekka Lappi provided a near-perfect drive on Friday's punishing opening leg with a slender lead at Rally Italia Sardegna. The Finn, making his gravel debut in a Toyota GR Yaris, won two of the six rock-strewn speed tests to open up a tiny 0.7sec advantage over Ott Tänak on a shortened opening day at round five of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Unfortunately, the final two stages were cancelled due to delays following an incident during the first passage of Osilu - Tergu. Lappi started strongly and topped the timesheets after the second passage of Monti di Alà e Buddusò before being quickly overtaken by a charging Ott Tänak at the end of the morning loop.

Tänak was on fine form and looked likely to pull clear in the afternoon, however, a transmission issue hampered the Hyundai i20 N driver on the final stage and he dropped back to second after nursing the car through with three-wheel drive. The cancellations of SS8 and SS9 held a silver lining for Tänak as he was able to return to the respite of Alghero service without dropping any further back.

Meanwhile, Lappi?s day was relatively drama-free, a front left puncture on SS5 being the biggest of his worries. Pierre-Louis Loubet ended 14.4sec back from Tänak in third. The Frenchman traded seconds with his M-Sport Ford Puma colleague Craig Breen throughout the day and both drivers dropped time with small overshoots. At close of play, Breen was just 0.4sec in arrears.

Dani Sordo was only six tenths further behind in his Hyundai. He struggled to find the optimum set-up early on, but adjustments made throughout the day proved fruitful and he notched up a brace of stage wins. Puma hotshot Adrien Fourmaux was a lonely sixth. He trailed Sordo by 14.7sec, but held a neat 34.7sec over Takamoto Katsuta, who struggled for traction in his Toyota.

Championship leader Kalle Rovanperä languished in eighth after sweeping the road all day followed by a dejected Thierry Neuville, who dropped two minutes with a transmission issue on SS5. WRC2 leader Andreas Mikkelsen completed the leaderboard in tenth overall.

It was a bad day for British drivers. Elfyn Evans led briefly before retiring his Yaris with radiator damage following a compression on the third stage, while Gus Greensmith ended 2min 19.0sec off the pace after struggling to restart his Puma following an overshoot in the morning.

4th June, 2022

Jim Clark Rally to Keith Cronin

The weekend's Beatson's Building Supplies Jim Clark Rally in the Scottish Borders fell to four-time British Rally champion Keith Cronin - bidding for a fifth BRC title - 27/28 May, taking a sensational victory in his Volkswagen Polo GTi. Cronin and co-driver Mikie Galvin were a force to be reckoned with all weekend long, opening up an unassailable forty second lead in their Pirelli-shod Polo over James Williams after the second stage on Friday night and maintaining that advantage over the second leg to take the win. Williams grappled with his Michelin backed Hyundai i20 to a maiden BRC podium in second, whilst local hero Garry Pearson rounded out the podium, another to claim his first podium in his Hankook supported Fiesta Rally2 in third.

The market town of Duns would return as the traditional host of the highly regarded event and nine brutal stages across Friday night and Saturday ensured it would be a challenging return to the rally for the BRC contingent, having been away since 2014.

It would be the eleven-mile Longformacus test run twice to open proceedings on Friday and Cronin was on another level. Stopping the clocks eight seconds faster than his Volkswagen Polo counterpart Osian Pryce, Cronin set his stall out early and repeated that feat on the second pass, going a staggering 23 sec quicker than anyone else to start the second day with 40 seconds in hand.

A trouble free and perfectly managed run over Saturday's seven stages saw Cronin deliver a drive that was borne by his experience, to take his first BRC win since the 2017 Isle of Man Rally and thanks to a round one runner-up spot, the championship lead. But Osian Pryce was on Cronin's tail on the first stage of the rally but suffered a puncture on the second. Failing to stop and change the flat would lead to exclusion by the event organisers, as he and O'Sullivan breached a regulation mandating the requirement to not compete on a puncture - and was excluded!

With Pryce out, Williams would enter into a fight with Pearson for second but the Hyundai driver had the upper hand. An impressive sight to behold over the unforgiving Scottish Borders stages, the Welshman took the fastest overall time on the final stage to seal the deal and along with co-driver Dai Roberts, took his maiden BRC podium in second place, going one better than his season opener in Essex.

Pearson would be balancing his local knowledge with the need for points after a round one non finish, and the Duns driver managed the prospect perfectly. Enjoying his first outing on his home event in top-flight BRC1 machinery, his mood was reflected in his result, grabbing third place with Dale Furniss on the notes. Putting his Joker bonus points to good use, Pearson was another to secure a first BRC podium.

Meirion Evans was making his BRC1 debut on the Jim Clark and professed to be struggling to live with the front-runners in his Melvyn Evans Motorsport run Polo. As the miles passed, the confidence grew and fourth place was the reward for him and co-driver Jonathan Jackson. Like many of the current generation of BRC contenders, Elliot Payne had not been to the Scottish Border stages before but coped perfectly with the pressure. Payne and Patrick Walsh overcame brake issues on Saturday to take their brightly liveried Fiesta Rally2 to fifth.

Ruairi Bell and Max Freeman fought back from a technical issue on stage one to take sixth in their Skoda Fabia whilst Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke secured seventh, both crews recording their first BRC finish of the season. The battle for the Junior BRC top spot went the way of round one runners up Eamonn Kelly and Conor Mohan. Kelly took his Fiesta Rally4 to a convincing lead after the second stage on Friday and despite the best efforts of his young rivals, was never headed.

Kelly elected to play his Joker for the chance to win additional bonus points and executed that plan to perfection, taking 30 Junior BRC points away from Scotland and the Junior BRC win championship lead. Kyle White enjoyed the quickest time over the opener, but struggled in the dark with a trip into a hedge. Along with co-driver Sean Topping, White couldn?t quite match Kelly over the remaining test to take second in their Peugeot 208 Rally4. Johnnie Mullholland and Eoin Treacy rounded out the top three in their Fiesta after a positive run.

Kyle McBride and Liam McIntyre sealed the deal in the Academy Trophy, taking their Fiesta to a second win of the season and fourth Junior BRC crew in the process. Making his return to the National Rally Title chase, Alan Carmichael bagged the top spot in his Hyundai i20. Guided by Arthur Kierans, Carmichael enjoyed a start to finish win after opening round winners Craig Jones and Ian Taylor suffered a boost issue on Friday night. Sadly the pairing would retire their Fiesta later in the day.

The British Rally Championship now heads to Wales as the Nicky Grist Stages hosts the first foray onto gravel this season in July.

Motorsport UK British Rally Championship - Overall After Round 2

1. Keith Cronin/Mikie Galvin 43
2. James Williams/Dai Roberts 33
3. Osian Pryce/Noel O'Sullivan 25
4. Elliot Payne/Tom Woodburn 22
5. Garry Pearson/Dale Furniss 20
6 Eamonn Kelly/ Conor Mohan 17
7 Meirion Evans/Jonathan Jackson 12
8. Ola Nore Jr/Jack Morton 10
9.= Kyle White/Sean Topping 8
9.= Ruairi Bell/Max Freeman 8

30th May, 2022

M-Sport Rally d'Italia Sardinia

Only one week since the tough conditions of Rally de Portugal, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team prepares to launch again on Rally d'Italia Sardinia. The Italian classic is a famously tough event, featuring tight and technical rough gravel roads blanketed with thick dust clouds and extreme temperatures.

M-Sport's fleet of Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1s showed promising performance in Portugal, despite misfortune for some crews, the raw pace of the all-new car on gravel has highlighted the team's potential. The team has won the event three times since its introduction to the world championship, with the most recent victory coming in 2017 when Ott Tanak claimed his maiden WRC victory, in M-Sport machinery.

The rally starts in Olbia on Thursday evening for an exciting Super Special Stage to bring the action in front of the Italy's passionate fans before moving closer to its base in Alghero for the remainder of the rally. Saturday's Monte Lerno stage brings some classic rally action with the iconic ?Micky?s Jump?, while Sunday's Sassari stage on the island's west coast acts as the all-important final Power Stage.

Ambient air temperatures often exceed 30 degrees during Rally d'Italia which make for tough conditions for the crews. The challenge of Rally d'Italia is further compounded by a continually developing surface as the soft and sandy top surface covers a very hard and immovable bedrock. It results in an unstable surface that is ravaged by the powerful Rally1 cars digging up ruts and rocks ? particularly on the second pass of each stage.

Crews are usually faced with two options for their rally strategy: an intense pace to stretch out a comfortable advantage which runs the risk of not finishing the rally or drive to the limits of the road and make up ground stage by stage. The winning strategy is usually a good balance between the two, by way of identifying the right areas to push and not push throughout the rally.

In the WRC2 category, Jari Huttunen returns to M-Sport in a Ford Fiesta Rally2 to continue his 2022 WRC2 campaign after an exceptional result on the rally last year which saw him claim a stunning fifth overall in Rally2 machinery.

30th May, 2022

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