- Hyundai Motorsport ready to fight for first-ever win in Wales Rally GB after gradual improvements year-on-year
- Three crew line-up will aim to get the team back on top of the manufacturers’ championship after dropping to second after a challenging Rally Turkey
- Drivers’ title leader Thierry Neuville will start first on the gravel roads on Friday with Ott Tanak and Sébastien Ogier hunting him down in the championship.
- Hyundai Motorsport heads to Wales Rally GB, the 11th round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) looking to bounce back from a disappointing Rally Turkey.
Hyundai Motorsport heads to Wales Rally GB, the 11th round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) looking to bounce back from a disappointing Rally Turkey, at which the team was forced to relinquish the lead of the manufacturers’ championship.
Despite a strong run to third for Hayden Paddon, who took his maiden podium of the 2018 season, Hyundai Motorsport saw two of its crews forced to retire from the lead of the event. Consequently, the manufacturers’ championship battle has intensified with just five points separating the top-two teams and three rallies remaining.
Wales Rally GB will offer a very different challenge to the rough and punishing stages in Turkey. Inclement autumn weather can often play a key role with the fast tree-lined routes into the Welsh forest made treacherous and muddy in wet conditions.
The rally is being held three weeks earlier than last season with some changes to the itinerary offering crews fresh demands. From Thursday evening’s super special at the Tir Prince Raceway to Friday’s two tests at Slate Mountain, located at the Llechwedd slate quarry, Wales Rally GB will have plenty of action for the fans.
Closure of public roads allows organisers for this year’s event to link traditional gravel tracks with short asphalt sections to create lengthier stages, including the longest of the event, a 29.13km test on Friday, which merges Brenig and Alwen.
Contrary to the usual rally schedule, the Power Stage will be run early on Sunday morning to accommodate the all-asphalt Great Orme Llandudno test that brings the 23-stage itinerary to its conclusion.
Hyundai Motorsport will field the same three-car line-up as in Turkey with Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger, Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul and Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall. All crews have had one day of testing in mid-Wales with the Hyundai i20 WRC Coupe.
Turkey was a missed opportunity for us to assert our authority on the manufacturers’ championship. Instead, we find ourselves in a very intense battle with Toyota, and of course with M-Sport Ford also not far behind. We have to approach Wales Rally GB with a strong mentality and utmost determination, to show what we are capable of. We have made steady gains in this rally from one season to the next, with fourth places in 2014 and 2015, third in 2016 and second place last year. Our aim for this year is clear: to fight for the victory. Words are not going to achieve that; we have to demonstrate our intention by giving our crews the best car to do the job.Michel NandanTeam Principal
HMDP crew return to Wales
The Hyundai Motorsport Driver development Program crew of Jari Huttunen and Antti Linnaketo will be present in Wales Rally GB, for their sixth participation of the season in WRC 2.
The Finnish duo took part in the event twelve months ago as a warm-up for their 2018 HMDP campaign, and will be looking to put into practice the lessons they learned last season. They will also be hoping to build on the experiences garnered throughout their five WRC 2 events of the year so far, which includes a podium in Finland and two sixth-placed finishes in Sweden and Mexico. The pair also finished second in last weekend’s FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) round in Poland.
Jari and Antti return to WRC 2 action after an encouraging season so far. They have been put through their paces in a range of rally conditions but shown a professional approach at all times. Finland of course, was a highlight, but in fact they have often been able to set times close to the established, more experienced crews. Finishing second in the recent ERC round at Rally Poland will give them great motivation for Wales Rally GB, a familiar rally to them from last year. It will be a good benchmark event for them to show just how far they’ve come.Michel NandanTeam Principal
- Thursday’s super special at Tir Prince kick starts a 23-stage itinerary that covers 318.34km
- Friday includes a new stage at Slate Mountain and new configurations of established stages
- At 150km, Saturday is the longest individual day of the event and features well-known stages Myherin, Sweet Lamb Hafren, Dyfi, Gartheiniog and Dyfnant. With no lunchtime service, it promises to be a decisive day of action
- Five stages on Sunday means there will be plenty left to play for, with the Power Stage unusually taking place as the second test of the final morning
- The all-asphalt stage of Great Orme Llandudno brings the rally to a finale in style.