Hyundai prepares for final Championship push in Wales Rally GB

The team has four cars and a revised line-up for the season finale

By Franck Drui

6 November 2015 - 10:14
Hyundai prepares for final Championship

Hyundai Motorsport heads to Great Britain next week for Wales Rally GB, the final round of the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), with second place in the Manufacturers’ Championship still in sight.

The team has just a four-point gap to its closest challengers, the Citroën team, as the Championship heads to a thrilling conclusion with all efforts focused on overturning the deficit.

Hyundai Motorsport will field a fourth Hyundai i20 WRC car at Wales Rally GB for the fourth time this season. The team has also restructured its driver line-up for this rally to concentrate on the Championship charge, as well as allowing its drivers to prepare in the best way for the 2016 season.

Dani Sordo, who claimed a fantastic 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. Thierry Neuville will drive the #20 car for the Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team – scoring points for Hyundai Motorsport N - to help him renew his confidence for next season, with Kevin Abbring returning to the #10 car.

Wales Rally GB will pose a fascinating challenge for all the drivers next weekend as Hyundai Motorsport concludes just its second season in WRC. Rally GB was founded in 1932 but it was the introduction of forest roads in 1960 that led to the format for which it is recognised today.

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.

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “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. We have made some important changes to our driver line-up with Dani and Hayden scoring Manufacturer points for Hyundai Shell WRT. We decided with Thierry to give him effectively a ‘free’ rally so he can regain his confidence for the 2016 Championship. We will have four cars for this event with Kevin completing his four-rally programme at an event where he has previously been successful. 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. We will all be pushing to reclaim second, a position we have held frequently up to this event. It won’t be easy but we are up for the fight!”

Sordo (#7 Hyundai i20 WRC) heads to GB on the back of a home podium in Spain and will be aiming for more of the same when he takes to the Welsh gravel next weekend.

Sordo said: “We had a great result in Spain so I hope to take that feeling forward to the final round of the season in Wales. 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.”

Paddon (#8 Hyundai i20 WRC) will help the team’s push for second in the Championship, as he moves into the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team for this rally. The Kiwi has built up a several top-five finishes in recent races and will be one to watch in Wales.

Paddon said: “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. 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! And 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.”

Neuville (#20 Hyundai i20 WRC) will use the opportunity driving for Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team to re-build his confidence ahead of the 2016 WRC campaign. He found good form in Spain and will continue finding improvements with a pressure-free Welsh rally.

Neuville said: “Wales will be a useful rally for us to try and find a good feeling with the car once again. We have an opportunity to drive without any pressure. It is run mostly in foggy and wet conditions. The rain can be quite heavy in fact, 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. From my side, 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.”

Abbring (#10 Hyundai i20 WRC) will take part in the final rally of his four-event programme with Hyundai Motorsport in Wales. He excelled in Corsica, running as high as second, and will no doubt put his accumulated experience to good use next weekend alongside his British co-driver Seb Marshall.

Abbring commented: “I am really looking forward to Wales, which will be the culmination of the season. The conditions are likely to be some of the most challenging that we see in any of the WRC rounds. 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 my British co-driver Seb. I will push myself to the best of my abilities to finish the season on a high with the team.”

Wales Rally GB consists of 19 stages run through Mid and North Wales, and will be run from a service park located in Deeside, covering a total of 312.16km. Thursday’s ceremonial start will this year take place in Llandudno, followed by Friday’s southerly opening leg that sees drivers tackle fan favourite Sweet Lamb (2.9km) as well as Hafren, the longest stage of the rally at 32.14km.

Saturday’s itinerary is the longest with 142.28km of stages. Two loops through Gartheiniog (11.34km) and Dyfi (25.86km) are accompanied by a run through Chirk Castle (2.06km) and precede the two Dyfnant (19.02km) and Aberhirnant (13.87km) night stages. Sunday’s final northern leg includes the iconic Great Orme headland run (4.74km) and two runs of Brenig (10.50km), once as the rally’s Power Stage.



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