|The 2018 WRC (World #Rally Championship) gets underway next weekend with the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo, the first of 13 events on this year’s WRC calendar.|
Hyundai Motorsport has outlined clear ambitions to compete for both drivers’ and manufacturers’ championship titles this year, having mounted a strong challenge throughout 2017. Yet, with rivals M-Sport, Toyota and Citroën all gunning for glory, another fierce battle among the manufacturers is on the cards.
The team’s 2018 challenger, an upgraded specification of its multiple Rally-winning Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, made its public debut alongside all WRC machinery at the official season launch in Birmingham, UK last week.
Competing under the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team banner for 2018, a trio of crews will represent Hyundai Motorsport at Rallye Monte-Carlo. Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jager will tackle the 17-stage Rally in the no.4 car, Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul will aim for victory in the no.5, while Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio will run the no.6.
Neuville memorably led at Monte-Carlo twelve months ago, putting in an eye-catching performance until a premature retirement on the penultimate afternoon. The Belgian went on to dominate the Power Stage to take the maximum five points as consolation.
Hyundai WRT: A tested development
The 2018-specification Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC has undertaken a thorough development program over the winter. Three days of testing were held north of Nice, France in mid-December, followed by a three days closer to Gap in the New Year.
The team then travelled to Spain for a solitary day of evaluation in a range of conditions. All three crews competing in Monte Carlo had the chance to get acquainted with the car on dry and wet tarmac, as well as on snow and ice. It proved a useful opportunity to replicate the various scenarios that might occur on the Monte Carlo rally stages.