Hyundai Motorsport Preview: Germany

  • The FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) moves back to tarmac for the ninth round of the season, Rallye Deutschland, following a run of four consecutive gravel rallies
  • A home event for Alzenau-based Hyundai Motorsport, the German round was where the team celebrated its maiden WRC win, a 1-2 result, in 2014
  • Dani Sordo returns to join Andreas Mikkelsen and Thierry Neuville in a Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, while HMDP driver Jari Huttunen competes in WRC2 in a Hyundai i20 R5.

- Hyundai Motorsport will be aiming for a podium-scoring performance when the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) returns to tarmac for Rallye Deutschland next week.

The team endured a difficult weekend on the high-speed gravel stages of Rally Finland, finishing in fourth place, having taken back-to-back victories in the previous events in Portugal and Sardinia. Nonetheless, taking valuable points enabled the squad to remain on top of both championship standings.

Rallye Deutschland holds a special place on the WRC calendar for the team, both as its home rally and as the scene of its first ever victory in WRC back in 2014. Since then, Hyundai Motorsport has emerged as a genuine championship contender against some tough opposition, with Thierry Neuville also leading the drivers’ classification with five rounds of the season remaining.

Neuville will be hunting for glory in Germany alongside Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team colleagues Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Sordo, who returns for his first event since Portugal.

Rallye Deutschland offers a more varied test than any other tarmac event with an assortment of stage characteristics. From lush vineyards to the notorious military roads to the open country routes, it’s an eclectic mix, which will require crews and teams to be on top form. All three crews will have had the chance to prepare for the second tarmac event of the season, putting the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC through its paces over five days in Germany.

Rallye Deutschland is an important event for us, and one where we have built up a lot of good memories from previous seasons. It requires a very different approach to other rallies, with a unique combination of stages. We struggled for performance on tarmac in Corsica earlier in the season, so we have carried out development tests with our i20 Coupe WRC to make some progress in this area. Our work has centred on suspension items as well as differential in an effort to improve the balance of the car. We had a more intensive five-day test ahead of this rally because of the mix of stage characteristics that we will face. We want to demonstrate a more assured performance, but I am quite optimistic we can be competitive.

Michel NandanTeam Principal

High five for HMDP crew

The Hyundai Motorsport driver Development Program (HMDP) crew Jari Huttunen and Antti Linnaketo will take part in their fifth WRC2 event of the season, fresh from a debut podium of the year in Finland.

Germany is the first competitive tarmac outing for the duo in WRC2 this year, offering yet another important learning opportunity. Buoyed by their second place in Finland, they will be hoping to compete with the front-runners in an extremely competitive WRC2 field.

Jari and Antti showed in Finland what they are capable of when they are fully confident in themselves and their car. Moving from gravel to tarmac will need a different mindset. It is not a new rally for them, but it will be their first participation on tarmac in an R5 car, so there will be some adaptation needed but we are hopeful that they can pick up another solid result.

Michel NandanTeam Principal

WRC Crew Notes: Mikkelsen/Jæger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

  • Finished second in Rallye Deutschland in 2017
  • Sixth in drivers’ championship on 57 points

Rallye Deutschland is one of my favourite tarmac events. It is a rally with plenty of variety and challenges, but one that I find highly enjoyable. I finished second in last year’s event, so it brings back good memories. I hope for a good result this time around with Hyundai Motorsport. We’ve not had the sort of results recently that we know we are capable of, so I am determined to rectify that in Germany.

Andreas Mikkelsen

WRC Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

  • Twice on the German podium with Hyundai Motorsport, including 2014 victory
  • Leading drivers’ championship by 21 points over Sébastien Ogier

After four consecutive gravel events, it is going to be nice to get back onto tarmac. Rallye Deutschland is a great event. It is a home rally for the team, and it is also situated close to the Belgian border, so we see lots of travelling fans coming to support us. We have had some fantastic results here in the past - including our debut win in 2014 - as well as some more difficult ones. Still leading the championship after a frustrating weekend Finland, I am ready to get back to the front in Germany.

Thierry Neuville

WRC Crew Notes: Sordo/Del Barrio (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Returns for first WRC event since Portugal, still holding fifth in championship

Sordo has taken two German podiums with Hyundai Motorsport (second in 2014 and 2016)

I am pleased to be back in the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC for Rallye Deutschland, which is a very nice event and a home rally for the team. It is not a straightforward event with lots of different stage profiles. We often see some rain over the weekend, which can leave the roads muddy and slippery, but who knows what we will face this year. We have been competitive in Germany in past seasons, with some happy memories of the podium. That’s got to be our target against tough competition from our rivals.

Dani Sordo

HMDP Crew Notes: Huttunen/Linnaketo (#40Hyundai i20 R5)

  • First WRC2 podium of 2018 in Finland with strong run to second place
  • First time at Rallye Deutschland with Hyundai i20 R5

It was a great feeling to be on the WRC2 podium in Finland representing the Hyundai Motorsport driver Development Program. As our home rally, it was a fantastic and special result. We now look ahead to our first tarmac rally of the season in the i20 R5. I feel pretty comfortable on tarmac but know it will be another important learning weekend for us. I know the German stages so the main target will be getting up to speed in WRC2 and seeing if we can trouble the usual pacesetters in the class.

Jari Huttunen

Bite-size Germany

  • Rallye Deutschland covers 18 special stages over a total distance of 325.76km
  • Almost like three tarmac rallies in one, the event covers vineyards, military roads and country routes
  • New Thursday evening super special at St Wendel before familiar tests through the Mosel valley on Friday
  • The iconic Panzerplatte stage, with its notorious Hinkelsteins, takes place on Saturday – the longest individual stage of the rally at 38.57km
  • Sunday offers a tough conclusion to the event with two runs through the 29km Grafschaft stage before the Power Stage at Bosenberg.