Mikkelsen joins Hyundai
Andreas Mikkelsen has joined Hyundai Motorsport to drive an i20 World Rally Car at the final three rounds of the WRC season in Spain, Britain and Australia.
He will partner Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo at next month’s RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España (5 - 8 October), with Hayden Paddon dropped for the mixed surface encounter.
Hyundai said its line-up for Dayinsure Wales Rally GB (26 - 29 October) and Kennards Hire Rally Australia (16 - 19 November) would differ from Spain, but did not provide details. It is likely Paddon will return, with Sordo missing out.
Team principal Michel Nandan acknowledged the decision to make changes was not easy, but necessary in an effort to rekindle its manufacturers’ title hopes. Hyundai trails M-Sport World Rally Team by 64 points after poor performances at the most recent rounds in Finland and Germany.
“Discussions with Andreas have been ongoing since he was out of a drive but we had nothing to offer him, as our line-up was fixed,” he said.
“However, with us losing ground, we decided to re-evaluate the situation. We had an open discussion with all three of our crews and informed them of our decision to make this adjustment.”
Mikkelsen lost his full-time seat when Volkswagen Motorsport left the WRC at the end of 2016. He tested with Hyundai in Portugal in April, but speculation he would join its line-up soon after came to nothing.
Instead he joined the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi squad, ushering in several updates to the troubled C3 car and driving three rallies, culminating in second place at last month’s ADAC Rallye Deutschland.
It is believed that Mikkelsen joining Hyundai for the final three rounds was conditional on being offered a longer-term deal for next season.
“It is a great team with some very talented people, and the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC has proven itself to be a winning car on every surface,” he said.
“I had the chance to test on gravel earlier this year. I had a really positive feeling, which I am sure we will find again in these last three events of the season. My aim is to do all I can to help the team in the manufacturers’ championship.
“I have a great belief in them and the car, so I am super excited. Anders (co-driver Jaeger) and I are ready for this and we hope it will be the start of something more long-term.”
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Frenchman will contest his home event, Rallye Le Béthunois, this weekend