Thierry Neuville has been confirmed in the #20 Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team entry for this weekend's Wales Rally GB as he attempts to regain his WRC mojo for next season.
The Belgian has struggled for form in recent rounds and removing the pressure to perform in his regular Hyundai Motorsport entry as the team attempts to regain second spot in the manufacturers' standings at the final event of 2015 is seen as a means of renew his confidence for next season. Neuville, who will score points for Hyundai Motorsport N alongside Kevin Abbring in Wales, enjoyed a boost in Spain and Hyundai hopes that he will continue finding improvements with a pressure-free event.
“We have made some important changes to our driver line-up with Dani [Sordo] and Hayden [Paddon] scoring manufacturer points for Hyundai Shell WRT,” Hyundai Motorsport team principal Michael Nandan confirmed, “We decided with Thierry to give him effectively a 'free' rally so he can regain his confidence for the 2016 championship.”
Neuville admits that he needs to start enjoying his driving again, and hopes that Hyundai's decision to stand him down from the 'first team' will go some way to achieving that aim.
“It would be nice to rediscover the pleasure we usually have when rallying and we hope that the team can build on the sort of result we had last year, when we were very close to the podium,” the Belgian commented, “Wales will be a useful rally for us to try and find a good feeling with the car once again, as we have an opportunity to drive without any pressure.
“The event is run mostly in foggy and wet conditions, and the rain can be quite heavy, which makes the stages very slippery, especially on second pass when the roads are polished and you are driving on loose stones. The team is still in a close fight for second in the manufacturers' championship and we will be wishing for the best outcome.”
Team-mate Abbring, meanwhile, will take part in the final rally of his four-event programme with Hyundai. He excelled in Corsica, running as high as second, and will hope to put his accumulated experience to good use alongside British co-driver Seb Marshall.
“I am really looking forward to Wales,” Abbring admitted, “The conditions are likely to be some of the most challenging that we see in any of the WRC rounds, but it is the perfect way to end the WRC season and my four-rally programme with Hyundai Motorsport, which has been an incredible experience.
“Each of the rallies I have taken part in this year has allowed me to make invaluable developments as a driver and I aim to put all of that to good use in Wales. I have experience rallying at Wales myself, winning the S2000 class in 2011, while it will also be a special event for Seb. I will push myself to the best of my abilities to finish the season on a high with the team.”