HYUNDAI and Citroën go head-to-head at Wales Rally GB this weekend in a final fight to secure the runner-up spot in the WRC Manufacturers’ Championship.
With the title secured by Volkswagen at Coates Hire Rally Australia in September, the battle for second is wide open with Hyundai and Citroën separated by four points and a maximum 43 to play for.
Wales Rally GB is the final round of the 2015 WRC – and the last time the season-closed is staged in the UK before it moves to Rally Australia on the Coffs Coast on 17-20 November 2016.
Citroën edged ahead of Hyundai on the previous round in Spain. Ford-powered M-Sport is the only other team with a chance of second, but is 29 points further back.
Hyundai has made a controversial change to its line-up in a bid to maximise its chances. Team leader Thierry Neuville has been rested from the main squad in favour of New Zealand’s rising star Hayden Paddon, who will pilot an i20 WRC alongside Dani Sordo.
“Wales Rally GB is a bit like a home event for me,” said Paddon.
“Wales is where I competed in my first WRC round outside New Zealand, many years ago, so it is a happy hunting ground for me.
“Now we are scoring points for the team, we have to make sure we have a strong event and try to bring home good points.”
The hopes of the Citroën Abu Dhabi squad ride with DS 3 drivers Mads Østberg and Northern Irishman Kris Meeke, who considers the rally his home fixture.
“I took part in my very first rally in these forests, so they are very familiar to me,” Meeke said.
“We know what we have to do, we have to finish second in the championship. So we have to try and finish in front of our rivals”
The action begins on Friday morning UK time and finishes on Sunday afternoon after 19 stages covering a total of 312.16km.
The event will also settle the second and third podium positions in the drivers’ championship. The places behind three-time champion Sebastien Ogier will be filled by his teammates Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen, but each still has a chance to secure the runner-up trophy.