Hyundai Motorsport heads to next weekend's Wales Rally GB with second place in the WRC manufacturers' championship still firmly in its sights.
The Alzenau-based team trails nearest rival Citroen by just a four points as the series heads to a thrilling conclusion, and all efforts are focused on overturning the deficit. Hyundai will field a fourth i20 WRC for the fourth time this season, while the team has also restructured its driver line-up for the final round, both to concentrate on the championship charge and allow other drivers to prepare in the best way for the 2016 season.
Dani Sordo, who claimed a fantastic home podium in Spain, will lead the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team in the #7 car, and will be joined by Hayden Paddon in the #8 car, while Thierry Neuville and Kevin Abbring team up for Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team.
“We reach the final round of the 2015 season still involved in a big fight for second place in the manufacturers' championship, which will offer us an exciting rally,” team principal Michel Nandan commented, “We will all be pushing to reclaim second, a position we have held frequently up to this event.
“Rally Wales GB is always a surprising event with very difficult conditions, muddy stages, limited daylight hours and inclement weather. There are long days for the whole team as we start very early in the morning and finish very late in the evening, so it is a rally with a lot of challenges. It won't be easy but we are up for the fight!”
Known for their high-paced curves through tight forestry and unpredictable conditions that can vary from mud to rain, snow, ice and fog, the Welsh stages demand utmost respect. Teams will fit cars with gravel suspension and soft compound tyres to deal with the expected cold, wet conditions and drivers will need to remain alert to pace notes as precariously low grip levels and roadside log-piles can pose a threat.
Sordo heads to Britain boosted by his podium in Spain and will be aiming for more of the same when he takes to the Welsh gravel next weekend.
“We had a great result in Spain, so I hope to take that feeling forward to the final round of the season in Wales,” the Spaniard confirmed, “This particular rally is normally set in difficult conditions with slippery surfaces, filled with mud, rain and gravel and so is a special rally. It is a very difficult event and the last one of the season, so we will be extremely focused. The most important thing is that I do the best I can in our fight for second place in the manufacturers' championship in front of Citroën. I am confident we can do it if we can find a good rhythm.”
While Sordo excels on tarmac, team-mate Paddon should find the Welsh conditions more familiar. The Kiwi, who moves into the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team for this rally, has built up several top-five finishes in recent rounds and should be one to watch in Wales.
“Wales Rally GB is a bit like a home event for me, going back to an English-speaking country where I have a lot of experience,” he noted, “Wales is where I competed in my first WRC round outside New Zealand, many years ago, so it is a happy hunting ground for me!
“Obviously, now that we are scoring points for the team, we have to make sure that we have a strong event and try to bring home some good points. I am looking forward to the rain and the mud and to sliding around in the forest. Of course, we want to try and finish here on a high, so we will be pushing the whole time and seeing if we can finish in the top five.”