Hyundai Motorsport will be hoping to get back to winning ways as the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) moves into its second half with Rally Italia Sardegna this weekend.
Continuing WRC’s run of consecutive gravel events, Sardinia has proven to be a happy hunting ground for Hyundai Motorsport in the past seasons. The team has claimed two victories at the event (2016 and 2018) with a total of five individual podium results.
A trio of crews will helm the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRCs with reigning Sardinia winners Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul aiming to continue their recent competitive form. Neuville holds third place in the drivers’ championship, following a fine drive to a second-place finish in Portugal, and is just ten points from the lead.
Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jaeger-Amland return to the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team line-up aiming to recreate the form that powered them to second place in Argentina in April. Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio have their sights set on a competitive and trouble-free rally after a frustrating weekend in Portugal, where they demonstrated their pace and potential on tough gravel routes.
All three crews have had the opportunity to test the Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC ahead of Rally Italia Sardegna as Hyundai Motorsport seeks to extend its advantage in the manufacturers’ championship. The 19-stage rally covers a competitive distance of 310,52 km with a largely unchanged route to last season – an event that was decided in thrilling fashion on the Power Stage with Neuville emerging victorious by only 0,7 seconds.
Team director Andrea Adamo said: “We enter the second half of the season knowing we can’t afford to have off-weekends like we did in Portugal. We came away with a second place, but that could have been so much more. We have an opportunity in Sardinia to show what we are capable of, but it’s in our hands to deliver. We will face another challenging rally in terms of the road conditions and temperatures, but I am confident our crews will use their undisputed talent to secure the best result possible.’’
Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul
Neuville said: ‘‘Sardinia is one of my favourite events. It suits my driving style and our pace note system. Nicolas and I have always felt comfortable there and we have had lots of success in the past. I hope we will be able to add to that in this year’s event. The championship is heating up nicely, so it will be another close battle I am sure.’’
Crew Notes: Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger-Amland
Mikkelsen said: “I am excited to get back behind the wheel of the Hyundai i20 after Thierry’s strong result in Portugal. Sardinia is a tricky rally, very technical with narrow roads that require precise pace notes and driving style. It’s important to have a predictable car for this event, one that gives you the confidence to push. Often there are rocks on the road and it becomes heavily rutted on the second pass. This puts extra focus on tyre management. Starting position is also a key factor with those running later benefitting from the cleaning effect.”
Crew Notes: Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio
Sordo said: “We know that we missed an opportunity for a competitive result in Portugal, but we have re-grouped and our focus is now on Sardinia where our target is for a trouble-free, reliable weekend. It is, however, a difficult rally. The roads are narrow with stones on the side that can catch us unaware. The first pass is quite sandy so there is more grip on the repeat loop, which means we have to follow a clever tyre strategy. The hot conditions also make it a gruelling rally on the car, tyres and crew, so we have lots of things to monitor and manage over the whole weekend.’’