Hyundai Motorsport Preview: Rallye Deutschland

The FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) moves back to tarmac for the ninth round of the season, Rallye Deutschland, following a run of four consecutive gravel rallies.
A home event for Alzenau-based Hyundai Motorsport, the German round was where the team celebrated its maiden WRC win, a 1-2 result, in 2014.
Dani Sordo returns to join Andreas Mikkelsen and Thierry Neuville in a Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC.

13 August 2018 - Hyundai Motorsport will be aiming for a podium-scoring performance when the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) returns to tarmac for Rallye Deutschland this weekend, round nine of the 13-event season, and the team’s home event.

The team endured a difficult weekend on the high-speed gravel stages of Rally Finland, finishing in fourth place, having taken back-to-back victories in the previous events in Portugal and Sardinia. Nonetheless, taking valuable points enabled the squad to remain on top of both championship standings.

Rallye Deutschland holds a special place on the WRC calendar for the team, both as its home rally and as the scene of its first ever victory in WRC back in 2014. Since then, Hyundai Motorsport has emerged as a genuine championship contender against some tough opposition, with Thierry Neuville also leading the drivers’ classification with five rounds of the season remaining.

Neuville will be hunting for glory in Germany alongside Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team colleagues Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Sordo, who returns for his first event since Portugal.

Rallye Deutschland offers a more varied test than any other tarmac event with an assortment of stage characteristics. From lush vineyards to the notorious military roads to the open country routes, it’s an eclectic mix, which will require crews and teams to be on top form. All three crews will have had the chance to prepare for the second tarmac event of the season, putting the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC through its paces over five days in Germany.

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “Rallye Deutschland is an important event for us, and one where we have built up a lot of good memories from previous seasons. It requires a very different approach to other rallies, with a unique combination of stages. We struggled for performance on tarmac in Corsica earlier in the season, so we have carried out development tests with our i20 Coupe WRC to make some progress in this area. Our work has centred on suspension items as well as differential in an effort to improve the balance of the car. We had a more intensive five-day test ahead of this rally because of the mix of stage characteristics that we will face. We want to demonstrate a more assured performance, but I am quite optimistic we can be competitive.” 

WRC Crew Notes: Mikkelsen/Jæger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 
Finished second in Rallye Deutschland in 2017
Sixth in drivers’ championship on 57 points

Mikkelsen said: “Rallye Deutschland is one of my favourite tarmac events. It is a rally with plenty of variety and challenges, but one that I find highly enjoyable. I finished second in last year’s event, so it brings back good memories. I hope for a good result this time around with Hyundai Motorsport. We’ve not had the sort of results recently that we know we are capable of, so I am determined to rectify that in Germany. ”

WRC Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 
Twice on the German podium with Hyundai Motorsport, including 2014 victory
Leading drivers’ championship by 21 points over Sébastien Ogier

Neuville said: “After four consecutive gravel events, it is going to be nice to get back onto tarmac. Rallye Deutschland is a great event. It is a home rally for the team, and it is also situated close to the Belgian border, so we see lots of travelling fans coming to support us. We have had some fantastic results here in the past - including our debut win in 2014 - as well as some more difficult ones. Still leading the championship after a frustrating weekend Finland, I am ready to get back to the front in Germany.”

WRC Crew Notes: Sordo/Del Barrio (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 
Returns for first WRC event since Portugal, still holding fifth in championship
Sordo has taken two German podiums with Hyundai Motorsport (second in 2014 and 2016)

Sordo said: “I am pleased to be back in the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC for Rallye Deutschland, which is a very nice event and a home rally for the team. It is not a straightforward event with lots of different stage profiles. We often see some rain over the weekend, which can leave the roads muddy and slippery, but who knows what we will face this year. We have been competitive in Germany in past seasons, with some happy memories of the podium. That’s got to be our target against tough competition from our rivals.”

Bite-size Germany   
Rallye Deutschland covers 18 special stages over a total distance of 325.76km
Almost like three tarmac rallies in one, the event covers vineyards, military roads and country routes
New Thursday evening super special at St Wendel before familiar tests through the Mosel valley on Friday
The iconic Panzerplatte stage, with its notorious Hinkelsteins, takes place on Saturday – the longest individual stage of the rally at 38.57km
Sunday offers a tough conclusion to the event with two runs through the 29km Grafschaft stage before the Power Stage at Bosenberg.