Hyundai Motorsport will enter four cars for Wales Rally GB at the end of this month, allowing both Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon to compete alongside new hire Andreas Mikkelsen and title contender Thierry Neuville.
Paddon was dropped ahead of this weekend’s Rally Spain to make way for Mikkelsen, with the team entering its usual three-car lineup. Following a pair of difficult rallies for Hyundai, scoring only a single top five finish in Finland with Neuville, the Korean manufacturer is on the back foot in both championships.
Consequently, they have entered four works cars for the first time since last year’s Rally Spain, in which Kevin Abbring was entered alongside Neuville, Sordo and Paddon.
“We had always retained the hope of running four cars in Wales Rally GB,” said team boss Michel Nandan. “We believe that this competitive line-up gives us a chance of keeping both drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles alive.”
“Thierry scored a podium last year, something Andreas achieved in 2015, so we know their potential there. Hayden has finished strongly in this event previously, so it will be the perfect occasion for him to return to form. Dani, meanwhile, as a previous podium scorer in Wales, will give us a solid benchmark in the fourth car.”
Factory teams are only allowed to nominate three cars to score points, meaning Sordo will be ineligible to score points for the manufacturers’ championship.
His presence will instead be aimed at driving a larger wedge between team leader Neuville and his championship rival Sébastien Ogier, with the latter currently holding a 17 point lead over the Belgian with three rounds remaining.
Question marks still remain over the team’s line-up for Rally Australia and beyond, with all four drivers still under contract until the end of the 2018 season.
Neuville’s de facto team-leader position, coupled with earlier confirmation of Mikkelsen’s presence in the team’s lineup for the rest of this season, leaves the possibility of Sordo missing the season-closing event.
Given Paddon’s substitution for the Spaniard’s home event, the reverse is expected to occur in Australia, the closest rally to a home round for Paddon, who is from neighbouring New Zealand.
Hyundai did not run a fourth car for Rally Australia previously, having run the #10 entry for Abbring exclusively in European rounds of the championship in 2015 and 2016.