Mikkelsen targets strong debut

Andreas Mikkelsen is targeting a return to the sharp end of the WRC this week when he makes his much anticipated debut with Hyundai Motorsport at RallyRACC Catalunya – Rally de España [5 – 8 October].

The Norwegian and his co-driver Anders Jaeger joined Hyundai last month, initially for the upcoming rounds in Spain, Great Britain and Australia, but last week the deal was extended to cover the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Having tested the i20 Coupe on both asphalt and gravel, Mikkelsen said he was hoping to jump straight into the thick of the action at the championship’s only mixed-surface round.

“I have been very impressed with what we’ve experienced. The car has already shown itself to be versatile, and there’s nowhere better than Spain to showcase those characteristics,” he explained.

“It’s a special rally for me, as I took my first win in Spain in 2015, so it has fantastic memories. It is a challenging, but highly enjoyable event, and I hope to be able to fight at the front in my first WRC event with the team.”

Hyundai will field a new three-car line-up in Spain, with Mikkelsen joining Thierry Neuville and home hero Dani Sordo. The team announced today that its  fourth contracted driver, Hayden Paddon, will return to the fold at Dayinsure Wales Rally GB [26 – 29 October] as part of a four-car squad.

After disappointment on the two previous rounds, when it lost ground in the team’s championship to leaders M-Sport, Hyundai is aiming to get its title challenge back on track. As part of this push, in Spain it will introduce an upgraded aerodynamic package for the i20, including a new front bumper and rear wing.

Team boss Michel Nandan said: “We have had a long summer break but we have used the time wisely to try and turn around our recent misfortunes. From Spain, and in the final rounds of the season, we are determined to do all we can to catch up.

“We welcome Andreas and Anders into the team from Spain, an event they won memorably in 2015, alongside Thierry and Dani, who have both had podiums at this rally. For Dani, it will be extra special, as his home event, so we are in optimistic and hopeful mood. With an upgraded Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, our primary target is to get back onto the podium.”