Four Hyundais possible for Rally Australia
HYUNDAI Motorsport could enter four cars at Kennards Hire Rally Australia in the final round of 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 when racing hits the Coffs Coast from November 16 to 19 as well as the preceding round in the Wales Rally GB in October.
Nandan 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.
Hyundai would've opted for the four pronged attack in the upcoming RallyRACC Catalunya-Rally de España but a lack of spare parts meant it was not possible to enter four drivers for the mixed surface event 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," Nandan said.
"Why it was not considered for Spain is that you have tarmac and gravel so you need more parts, and it was not reasonable."
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," Nandan explained.
"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," he said.
"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."