Thrilling Finale Brings Success For Hyundai's Season

A confident drive by Hyundai Castrol World Rally Team crews Freddy Loix/Sven Smeets and Juha Kankkunen/Juha Repo on the Rally of Great Britain brought the team and the Korean manufacturer a successful end to the season with a secure fourth place in the Championship.

Despite the fact that the 2002 Drivers' Championship and Manufacturers' title were tied up, there were still battles to be won on the final round of the season. For the Hyundai Castrol World Rally Team, the fight was on until the last kilometre for fourth position in the Manufacturers' Championship and although challengers Mitsubishi were out of contention by the end of leg two, Czech rivals Skoda were still hot on the heels of Hyundai ready to pick up any available points.

Hyundai’s ‘Fast Freddy’ lay in a points-scoring position overnight with four-time World Champion team-mate Juha Kankkunen right behind him. As Armin Schwarz was sidelined by an exhaust fire on day two of the rally, the responsibility lay with Juha and Freddy.

The two crews battled to stay in contention confidently setting competitive stage times, fully aware of the importance of points on this final round of the season. The high rate of attrition on Rally GB helped Loix and Kankkunen establish themselves in the position needed by the team, so the plan for the final stage was to go fast but steady. It paid off and Loix’s one point was enough to achieve the team’s goal.

"I’m delighted for the team," said an elated Loix, "and I don’t care about losing by one tenth of a second to Harri (Rovanpera). I could have fought with him for the position but it could have all gone wrong and that would have been stupid. I didn’t come here to fight with the Peugeots. I came here to lead the team home and to get the points for fourth place in the Championship. I took it very carefully on the final stage of the rally to make sure of that!"

World rally legend Kankkunen – usually a man of few words – was also pleased with the team’s result. "We did the best we could today and fourth place in the Manufacturers' Championship was the most important thing. This was one of the easiest Rally GBs that I can remember, difficult in places but the weather made it so much better."

continues... | Part Two
Published 9 December 2002 Melanie Carter

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