Hyundai Motorsport Preview: Rally de España

  • Hyundai Motorsport will continue its fight for the title as the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) heads to the mixed surface Rally de España
  • Thierry Neuville sits atop the drivers’ table with a seven-point advantage while Hyundai Motorsport has the objective to reverse  a 20-point deficit in the manufacturers’ standings
  • Home hero Dani Sordo returns for his first WRC event since Rallye Deutschland, aiming for a third Spanish podium with the team.

- Hyundai Motorsport is ready to put up its strongest fight as the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) moves onto the penultimate event next weekend, the mixed surface challenge of Rally de España.

Hyundai Motorsport heads into round 12 of the 13-event season trailing in the manufacturers’ title chase by 20 points with a maximum of 86 available over the final two rallies in Spain and Australia. Thierry Neuville, meanwhile, holds a slim seven-point margin at the top of the drivers’ classification.

Despite a string of disappointing weekends compared to its title rivals, Hyundai Motorsport hopes to turn the tide at the popular multi-surface Spanish round. The team will field three Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC crews with home hero Dani Sordo re-joining alongside Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen.

All sights will be set on fighting for victory at a rally where the team has previously taken three individual top-three finishes. Sordo took third in 2015 before going one place better a year later as part of a double podium with Neuville in third.

Two become one

Often seen as two rallies in one, Rally de España gets underway with a short tarmac test in Barcelona on Thursday evening before moving primarily onto gravel for Friday’s stages. A spectacular 75-minute service is held on Friday evening during which mechanics transform the cars into tarmac specification for the Saturday and Sunday.

In order to prepare the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC for the unique challenges of Spain, crews have carried out a mix of tarmac and gravel testing. There has been a particular focus on tarmac performance, something the team has worked hard to improve throughout the season.

There is no room for error in Spain, if we are to overturn the deficit in the manufacturers’ championship. We still have a mathematical chance to achieve our title goal by the end of Australia. We’ve seen that anything can happen in the WRC this season, but we also know it will be a big undertaking. We will still give it our maximum. We will also do everything we can to support Thierry in the drivers’ title – engineers, mechanics and crews alike. We have a good car, a strong team and competitive drivers; we need to put all elements together and aim as high as we can. It’s a privilege to be in such an exciting battle, and the competition is as intense as we knew it would be. We will push right up to the Power Stage in Coffs Harbour. The most deserving team will take the title.

Michel NandanTeam Principal

New territory for HMDP crew 

Fresh from their competitive fourth place finish at Wales Rally GB, the Hyundai Motorsport Driver development Program (HMDP) crew of Jari Huttunen and Antti Linnaketo will prepare for a brand new challenge in Spain.

Their seventh WRC2 participation of the 2018 season will mark their competitive debut on the mixed surfaces of Rally de España. The Finnish crew will be seeking to continue their recent progress with the Hyundai i20 R5 against the impressive talent in WRC2.

Jari and Antti have made important progress throughout 2018, tackling a combination of familiar and new events. We have seen how well they have fared on rallies where they have past experience – Finland and Wales particularly – but it has been equally important for them to discover new events. Spain will be the next challenge on their learning curve, but we are sure they will get the best out of themselves and the ever-improving Hyundai i20 R5.

Michel NandanTeam Principal

Bite-size Spain

  • 18 special stages will be run over a total distance of 331.58km
  • The opening super special in Barcelona, a short tarmac test, will pave the way for a day of mainly gravel action on Friday
  • The 38.85km La Fatarella-Vilalba stage makes use of the well known mixed surface Terra Alta test from previous years – although run in the opposite direction
  • 75 minute service on Friday evening to change the cars from gravel to tarmac specification ahead of 121.80km of stages on Saturday
  • A quartet of timed tarmac runs concludes the event on Sunday morning with the second attempt of 14.50km Santa Marina acting as the Power Stage – with invaluable drivers’ points up for grabs as the title chase intensifies!