• Nicolas Gilsoul jump rallye - Sardinia
  • Nicolas Gilsoul action rallye - Sardinia
  • Nicolas Gilsoul team podium rallye - Sardinia
  • Nicolas Gilsoul powerstage rallye - Sardinia

Nicolas Gilsoul's log book: Victory in Sardinia!14/06/2016

Hello everyone,

The World Rally Championships is no exception to the rule: like the majority of sporting disciplines, there are traditions from which there is no escaping. So, the awards ceremony on the podium barely finishes when the winners of the Sardinia rally "must" jump fully-clothed into the waters of the port of Alghero, the nerve centre of the Italian leg of the WRC.

Well, I felt obliged to respect this tradition with my pilot Thierry Neuville, but also our engineers, the mechanical director and other members of the Hyundai team, in order to fittingly celebrate our victory in the fifth round of the season. And believe me, I'm not likely to forget this drenching in the Mediterranean in a hurry, since it capped a perfect race in which we took all the points!

During our last contact, I had fixed the next rendezvous for Portugal. I was convinced that this challenge would mark an important point during the 2016 campaign, for the crew which Thierry and I make up. I just made one little timing error. An incident beyond our control ruined our chances of shining in Portugal, but we knew it was just a small setback. Sardinia left us with excellent memories since we had also finished on the podium there in 2013 and 2015; and to put it differently, we could 'feel' this Italian stage of the calendar.

At the outset, we were convinced that we could be up there at the front. From the shakedown, the short special test planned a few hours before the start, Thierry and I were possessed by that level of confidence which is essential if you want to pull off an amazing performance. And as the kilometres were racked up, this feeling became sharper: we were in perfect synergy with our Hyundai i20 whose set-up turned out to be perfectly adapted to a very demanding terrain, our rhythm was perfect because it allowed us to progress to the checkpoints without taking unnecessary risks on a dirt track which was challenging for both car and driver. The scores reflected the difficulty of the special stages, and that should have clinched it. And it did!

Throughout the whole race, we battled with the Finns Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikka Anttila who, edging just ahead of us in the speed stages, progressed in identical conditions. It quickly became apparent that it was either us or them who were going to win it. But eventually we opened up a huge 20-second gap ahead of our rivals, and claimed our second world victory fair and square after the Deutschland 2014 one. But more specifically, the victory in Sardinia was particularly sweet because we claimed it at the end of a long battle which lasted right up until the final kilometres, whereas in Germany, we won partly due to the misfortunes which had affected our rivals. For a sportsman, to triumph and carry the colours of your partners in this way is particularly rewarding.

Having endured an exhausting race - 16 hours in the cockpit on the Saturday - this result came just at the right time before various other major races. At the start of July, the WRC will head to Poland, and then on to Finland a few weeks later. The championships will move to Germany for the third weekend of August. I would be delighted to see you all among the supporters who will make the short trip to region of Trier, where the German leg will take place; it's really not that far from Belgium ...

As a final note, it goes without saying that the victory in Sardinia gave my morale a boost, and I will keep giving 100% to make sure the rest of the 2016 continues at the same pace.

See you soon.

Nicolas

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