Nicolas Gilsoul's log book13/05/2016

Hello everyone,

Four legs of the 2016 World Rally Championships which I am competing in with an official Hyundai i20 WRC have handed down their verdict. The time appears right for an initial review which is positive and, above all, promising for the next stage.

As every year, the season got off to a start in Monte-Carlo, a difficult rally owing to the weather which greatly complicated the choice of tyres. In the past, we were not always successful in this major event in the calendar. But, this time everything went well: we avoided the countless traps of the sixteen special stages in the Alps and the hinterland of Nice, and we reached the Principality in 3rd place despite a stressful end to the race owing to a transmission problem. With a comfortable advance on our nearest competitors, it was easy for us to manage these final moments of tension in order to start our 2016 campaign on the podium... and not just any podium! The "Monte" is seen as a very special event among the general public and specialists, and our good performance allowed me to fully comprehend the extent of my role as an ambassador for Wallonia.be.

The day after this success, we all felt on top of the world and set our sights on Sweden for a stage for which Thierry and I have an excellent souvenir after a taking a wonderful 2nd position in 2015. Sadly, things did not go as planned. Firstly, the mild temperatures for the season altered the race, which was no longer under "winter" conditions. But, above all, a technical problem ruined our chances from the start: with a transmission failing after a few kilometres, ours was no longer a 4WD but simple 2WD; with no support authorised on this first day, our only choice was to continue on our route as best we could until the end of the evening when we were finally allowed to entrust the 20 WRC to the team of mechanics. This incident was all the more frustrating because the following day, with a vehicle at the top of its form, we showed that we were able to set our sights on the podium! Afterwards, we realised the importance of the shakedown's cancellation, the special test stage programmed the day before the race but exceptionally cancelled in Sweden: if, instead of occurring during a race, the incident that ruined our chances had occurred during the shakedown, it would have been possible to repair it before the actual race. But if ifs and ands were pots and pans there'd be no need for tinkers…

Therefore, Thierry and I were hungry for revenge in the third round of the championship in Mexico. Were we too motivated? Did we want to do too much? Whatever the case, after an excellent start, we committed two small mistakes... with serious consequences and we assume entire responsibility for them. Remember that the Mexican special stages are raced on dirt roads which are made extremely slippery by a layer of dust that covers a very hard surface. This "cocktail" is a difficult one and there is very little margin for error...

The last race I want to talk about was in the Cordoba region in Argentina where, as in Mexico, spectators are extremely enthusiastic about the rally. It is wonderful to experience such an atmosphere of enthusiasm, fervour and kindness. Sadly, the gods of mechanics - or rather electronics - were not on our side.  In the shakedown, we found ourselves with engine problems and the time spent finding the solution with our engineers was not spent on fine-tuning the vehicle. During the short super-special stage in the town of Cordoba, the mechanical side of things was working well, but the following morning, when we started out, problems started to appear again... Things got worse in the first special stage, where we lost more than 6 minutes, with the engine cutting out several times. After searching, we finally found the cause of the problem: a connector that had not been attached properly... From that point on, we had just one goal in mind: to reach the finish line in a top position in order to mark points for the world championship, the drivers and the constructors. And, that's what we did, finishing 6th in an event won by our New Zealand team mates Hayden Paddon and John Kennart. Apart from being good for the morale of the entire Hyundai team, this victory shows that the New Generation i20 WRC has the potential to be successful at a very high level. Personally, the result in Argentina has motivated us even more for the next part of my 2016 campaign, starting with the next round in Portugal. I am delighted to be a part of it! Believe me, I am awaiting this rally with great impatience because, as a driver, I am convinced that I have what is needed to shine: a good car, a route - almost identical to the one in 2015 - that is interesting and selective, a serious desire to win, everything that is needed to do something great. I look forward to telling you all about it very soon!

Nicolas Gilsoul  

 

 

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