PHOTO: Jeremy Rogers
HYUNDAI Motorsport could enter four cars at Kennards Hire Rally Australia ahead of a possible four-car campaign in the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship.
Team principal Michel Nandan has hinted that title challenger Thierry Neuville, new signing Andreas Mikkelsen, Hayden Paddon and Dani Sordo could all be entered in Australia on 16-19 November and the preceding round at Dayinsure Wales Rally GB on 26-29 October.
He also confirmed the Korean manufacturer was considering a four-car team for 2018, when Mikkelsen is expected to join the squad alongside the other trio, who are already contracted.
Speaking on the WRC Live radio show, Nandan told host Becs Williams the availability of spare parts meant it was not possible to enter four drivers for the mixed surface RallyRACC Catalunya-Rally de España on 5-8 October, where Mikkelsen will replace Paddon.
“We’re quite deep in the season and have a certain amount of parts, and enough to do like it should be for the championship, with spares. Why it was not considered for Spain is that you have tarmac and gravel so you need more parts, and it was not reasonable,” he said.
Hyundai recruited Mikkelsen to enhance its flagging title bid in the manufacturers’ series, in which it lies 64 points behind M-Sport World Rally Team. Results in Spain will determine the entry strategy for the gravel rounds in Britain and Australia.
“We have looked at it and we could put four cars. It doesn’t mean it will be like that, but we’re looking at that because it’s also in the interests of Hyundai for the championship.
“We have to try to do it and there we could do it. It depends where we will be (in the championship). I think a lot of things still need to be done, even if there are only three rallies left, but we will see how the situation will be.”
Nandan said 2018’s strategy would be finalised shortly.
“We have our three drivers from this year under contract until the end of 2018. Nothing is still done with Andreas at the moment.
“It’s true we are looking at the possibility of four cars, but for this we need to have some approval because budget is concerned for that. This should be decided in the next weeks.”