Official: Loeb to compete 6 WRC rounds with Hyundai in 2019
He’ll split the third car with Dani Sordo
Hyundai Motorsport has confirmed that Dani Sordo and Sébastien Loeb will join its 2019 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) campaign, representing a strong signal of intent from the Alzenau-based team.
As part of a two-year contract, nine-time champion Loeb will compete in six rounds of the 2019 season in a Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC alongside long-time co-driver Daniel Elena, starting with Rallye Monte-Carlo in January.
The Frenchman registered his 79th WRC victory in spectacular fashion at Rally de España in October, his first since 2013. He will get his first taste of the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC prior to Rallye Monte-Carlo, the opening round of the 2019 WRC season.
For Sordo, a one-year contract extension to run eight events into 2019 will mark his sixth consecutive season with Hyundai Motorsport. The Spaniard, alongside co-driver Carlos del Barrio, scored five top-five results in seven starts in 2018, including two podium finishes. Their precise programme for next season is still to be defined but will commence at Rally México in March.
Loeb and Sordo, who were previously WRC team-mates for four seasons from 2007-2010, will join Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen on the team’s driver roster for 2019. Hyundai Motorsport also has an open dialogue with Hayden Paddon to discuss options for his involvement with the team into next year.
Sébastien Loeb said: “I am delighted to announce that Daniel and I will compete in six WRC events for Hyundai Motorsport in 2019, beginning with Rallye Monte-Carlo. Winning at Rally de España this season re-ignited my desire to continue competing at the very front of WRC. Joining Hyundai will give us a fresh challenge and one that I can’t wait to tackle. I have been impressed with the team’s approach and their determination to succeed. They were firmly in the title fight this season and I feel that I can bring a lot to them, together with Thierry, Andreas and Dani. The Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC is a proven rally winner, and as a crew we know can still be up there with the best, so 2019 promises to be an exciting season!”
Dani Sordo said: “Hyundai Motorsport has really become a special team to me, so I am pleased to remain part of the WRC line-up. We have built some good memories over the years, and, alongside Carlos, I felt that 2018 was one of my most competitive seasons. We know that when things work in our favour we can really be strong contenders. It is important for us to learn from the difficult moments and come back stronger – that’s the aim for 2019. We have an exciting crew line-up with Sébastien coming on board. He brings an immeasurable amount of experience which will be a huge benefit to the entire team as we move forward.”
Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “Sébastien’s announcement is hugely important for Hyundai Motorsport, and we’re overjoyed that he has agreed a two-year contract. Sealing a deal with someone of his immense talent and calibre shows that we are an attractive and competitive proposition in the FIA World Rally Championship. Ultimately, our goal is to win the WRC title. We believe we have the package to achieve that, and our composition of crews for 2019 will perfectly reflect that ambition. We are also happy to retain the services of Dani for another year, extending a positive working relationship that dates back to 2014. With Thierry and Andreas already on the books for next season, we have an exciting mix of personalities and a complementary line-up. We are also still in talks with Hayden to see how we can work together into 2019. He is a great talent and a tremendous ambassador for Hyundai NZ, leading various motorsport projects.”
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