Hyundai Motorsport Preview: Rally Australia

  • Hyundai Motorsport is targeting its maiden FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) title at the 2018 season finale, Rally Australia
  • Thierry Neuville holds a three-point deficit to current leader Sébastien Ogier in the drivers’ title with Ott Tanak 20 points further back in third
  • In the manufacturers’ standings, Hyundai Motorsport lies 12 points behind Toyota Gazoo Racing but 13 ahead of M-Sport Ford with 43 points available.

- Hyundai Motorsport will set out to claim its first-ever title in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) next weekend as the 2018 season concludes ‘down under’ at Rally Australia.

The finale of one of the most competitive fought WRC seasons for many years sees a three-way fight in both drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships between Hyundai, Toyota, M-Sport Ford and their respective drivers Thierry Neuville, Ott Tanak and Sébastien Ogier.

Following a thrilling encounter at Rally de España, Ogier now leads Neuville in the drivers’ table by three points, while a two-car finish in the top-five in Spain saw the gap to Toyota in the manufacturers’ battle reduced to twelve points. In Australia, there will be a maximum 30 points available for drivers (25 for victory and five bonus Power Stage points), and 43 for manufacturers (one-two result).

Hyundai Motorsport will field three Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC cars in the final round of the season, an event the team won twelve months ago. Joining last year’s winning crew Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul will be Norwegians Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger and returning duo Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall, who claimed a third-place podium result in Australia last year.

The greatest showdown

The dusty gravel and forest tracks of Rally Australia will offer a suitably tricky battleground for all participating crews with a heavily revised route that features 16 new-look stages. A total of 24 timed tests will cover a distance of 318.64km and offer little opportunity for respite over the three days of competition.

Brand new stages are made up of previously unused roads as well as sections of former stages, such as the monster Nambucca test. The spectacle has also been ramped up with two jumps and a water splash at the Destination New South Wales special on Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as a longer, higher jump at the fan favourite Wedding Bells Power Stage.

What a season finale this promises to be! After 12 competitive rounds of gravel and tarmac action carried out in a variety of conditions and countries around the world, we head to Australia with both titles wide open. On the one hand we know we have let our grasp of the titles loose over recent rallies but at the same time we remain as determined as ever to secure a maiden WRC title for Hyundai. It will be far from easy. All four manufacturers will be vying for victory, aiming to finish the season on a high, so it looks set to be a fierce contest – arguably the ideal way to end what has been a truly fascinating season. May the best team and crew win!

Michel NandanTeam Principal

Bite-size Australia  

  • 24 stages run over three days and a total stage distance of 318.64km
  • Dusty forest tracks in the bush near to Coffs Harbour, where the rally service park is located
  • New-look tests for 2018 will offer fresh challenges for all crews
  • Harbourside super special stages on tarmac designed to offer spectacular viewing for fans
  • Rally acts as conclusion to one of the most competitive and unpredictable WRC seasons for many years.