HYUNDAI Motorsport has renewed its vows to win the FIA World Rally Championships for manufacturers and drivers, on the eve of the season’s official launch at Britain’s Autosport International show today.
The team finished runner-up in the manufacturers’ contest in 2018, for the third time in a row, having taken the title fight down to the wire at Kennards Hire Rally Australia.
It starts the new 14-round season at Rallye Monte-Carlo on 24 January with significant changes in the form of nine-time champion Sébastien Loeb, on board for six events, and a new team director, Andrea Adamo.
Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Sordo remain in the line-up, but Kiwi star Hayden Paddon has left the team.
Adamo said the targets for Hyundai Motorsport in its sixth season were clear.
“Our objectives for WRC remain the same as they have been for the past years, namely to fight for the manufacturers’ and drivers’ titles.
“We have all the ingredients to win in WRC. There is nothing lacking compared to our rivals. We are right up there in terms of our engineering capability.
“We are arguably the strongest in terms of our crew line-up – Thierry, Andreas, Dani and Sébastien are all top-level drivers. I am confident we have the package to win.”
Rally Australia 2017 winner Neuville said: “We showed a lot of promise last season and gave it our best shot but, for various reasons, we weren’t able to sustain our challenge. We recognise that consistency is an important area of improvement for our team, as well as creating strength in depth across all crews.”
Loeb’s program will begin at Rallye Monte-Carlo – an event he won seven times with Citroën – after he completes his drive for Peugeot on the current Dakar Rally in Peru.
“I am pleased to be joining such a great line-up of crews for my first season with Hyundai Motorsport. It is clear to me that the car was a competitive package in 2018, which enabled the team to fight for the championship titles right to the very end,” he said.
“Thierry has improved a lot in recent years and is a genuine title contender. He is fast on every surface, which is important. I hope I can get up to speed with the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC quickly and be able to show competitive pace.”