Joan Vinyes – Jordi Mercader (Hyundai i20 N Rally2 – Team Rallycar) starred in a Rally da Auga 2023 in clear progression, achieving the fourth position of the absolute classification at only 23″ from the final podium of the event.
The Galician event was the first of the calendar of the Spanish Cup of the specialty (CERT) this season, a competition that the Rallycar team will follow regularly.
Vinyes was very satisfied with how his return to rallying in Spain went: “We have more than fulfilled the objectives we had set for the Ordes event. It was a very nice rally although, being in Galicia, the weather always has the last word. The Hyundai behaved impeccably and the team did a perfect job. Without a doubt, it’s an exciting return to gravel rallies. The next objective is to recover the pace on gravel that we had years ago”.
Excellent sensations on the qualifying stage (3.5 km special).
Once all the pre-competition steps had been completed (reconnaissance, checks…) it was time to get behind the wheel of the Hyundai i20N Rally2 and compete against the clock.
Vinyes-Mercader, in the “free parctice” set a best time of 2’42″488, a time that was far from what was expected. Vinyes commented: “The section was tricky, with wet and dry areas that slid a lot but not in a regular way. In qualifying we will try to change our driving style to see if we can improve our time”.
Vinyes got it right, in the qualifying section, sacrificing a bit of speed, but making the right line, the time improved spectacularly (2’28″492), achieving the fourth place in the classification to choose the starting order.
The rest of Friday (24th) was uneventful. Vinyes-Mercader disputed the show stage (the time was not valid for the rally) and the starting ceremony.
The rally went from less to more, aiming to get to know the Hyundai.
It was the first time driving the Hyundai i20N Rally2 and the Team Rallycar driver started the first special stages at a pace that allowed him not to lose contact with the fastest drivers, but without taking any risks.
After setting the third fastest time in the fourth special stage of the day and the last of the morning loop, Vinyes-Mercader were in 7th position, 2’32” behind the leader, the Spanish champion Cohete Suarez (Skoda Fabia RS Rally2) and 1’37” behind Ivan Ares (Hyundai i20N Rally2).
At the mid-race service Vinyes said: “Everything is going as expected, maybe we could go a little faster, but we thought it was not the right time yet. There is no doubt that the performance of the Hyundai gives you the possibility to go faster”.
The podium was close, …
In the continuation they continued in the same line, regularly in the top 5 of the partials, they managed to complete the rally in fourth position. Was the podium possible? According to Vinyes: “Maybe in other circumstances, but I think our first result is very good and it was unnecessary to force the situation to be on the podium. I will tell you that in the last special we even raised a bit to ensure that the final park was closed”.
Vinyes’ final assessment was: “Undoubtedly very positive in every way, when we are able to take advantage of all the features of the Hyundai i20N Rally2, there is no doubt that we will be able to fight to achieve more demanding challenges”.
Final classification of the Terra da Agua Rally 2023.
1. Suarez-Iglesias (Skoda Fabia RS Rally2) 1h02’15.2, 2. Osorio-Dos Reis (Skoda Fabia R5), at 3’35”.4, 3. Vidales-Hereu (Skoda Fabia R5), at 3’39 ”.6, 4. Vinyes-Mercader (Hyundai i20N Rally2), at 4’04.0, 5. Alonso-Pérez (Citroën C3 Rally2), at 4’13”1.
The next appointment will be in mid-April (14 and 15), in Lorca (Murcia). A new edition of the Tierras Altas de Lorca Rally will be held which, in addition to scoring for the CERT – Rallycar, will be valid for the Spanish Rally Super Championship (S-CER).