Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team
|Drivers:||Andreas Mikkelsen, Thierry Neuville, Hayden Paddon, Dani Sordo|
Hyundai made its return to WRC competition in 2014 with an all-new team and ambitious long-term plans for success in rallying’s top class.
The Korean firm wasn’t new to the WRC. It competed in the F2 category between 1998 and 2000, before switching to a World Rally Car version of its Accent saloon until 2003.
Hyundai’s return was heralded by the unveiling of a prototype i20 World Rally Car at the Paris Motor Show in September 2012. Things moved quickly, with the establishment three months later of a new motorsport base in Germany.
Former Peugeot WRC technical head Michel Nandan was brought in to oversee the task of creating a fully operational team, a rally-specification i20 and developing a brand new motorsport facility - all from scratch and in 12 months.
At the wheel throughout 2014 was 2013 title runner-up, Thierry Neuville, with a second car shared by Dani Sordo, Bryan Bouffier, Juho Hanninen and Chris Atkinson. Hyundai was clear from the off that 2014 would be a development year, but it showed plenty of promise, including a surprise 1-2 result in Germany.
The team’s breakthrough came in 2016 when Neuville firstly put the i20 on the podium at Rallye Monte-Carlo and then Hayden Paddon’s dominant maiden victory in Argentina made people sit up and take note.
Neuville matched the performance two rallies later in Sardinia and after two victories and 12 podiums, Hyundai secured second in the championship.
A poor start to 2017 left Neuville playing catch-up but the Belgian hit a sweet spot and six consecutive podiums, including three wins, put him in with a title shot. It wasn’t to be and Hyundai had to settle for the runner-up trophies in both championships, despite Neuville claiming four wins.
He will be out to settle the score in 2018, this time with former VW man Andreas Mikkelsen as team-mate. Hayden Paddon and Dani Sordo will share a third car.