Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team have had a somewhat disastrous start to their 2018 campaign, Thierry Neuville hit trouble on the opening stages when he was stuck for nearly 5 minutes, and today brings further bad news for the team as Andreas Mikkelsen was forced to retire.
Following a strong opening evening the Norwegian headed in to the first full day of action just 17.3 seconds behind rally leader and reigning champion, Sébastien Ogier.
An eighth fastest time on the opening stage of the Friday action after making a mistake at a junction saw him leapfrogged by team-mate Dani Sordo.
“I went straight on at a junction and had to turn around. Not so good. A very dirty road. Tricky.” commented Mikkelsen after the stage.
As competitors got under way on SS4, Mikkelsen wasn’t anywhere to be seen, soon reports would come in that he and co-driver Anders Jæger were working on the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC en-route to the stage.
It wouldn’t be long before the team confirmed the issues, the crew were working to try and replace an alternator belt, unfortunately the repair couldn’t be carried out in time and Mikkelsen was forced to retire.
— Hyundai Motorsport (@HMSGOfficial) January 26, 2018
The duo are expected to be back in action again tomorrow under the Rally 2 rule, and while he can still compete points, he will have to hope for misfortune for his fellow competitors as he looks to claw back 35 minutes of penalty time from todays missed stages.
Hyundai’s only hope for victory now lies with Spaniard Sordo, who after five stages is 47.5 seconds off of the pace of Ogier, but holding on to third place, just behind Ott Tänak.