Hyundai Motorsport will be aiming to get its sixth WRC season off to a positive start. The championship gets underway at Rallye Monte-Carlo. One of the most iconic and demanding events on the calendar, this year’s Monte will feature a fresh route. Up to 40% of the stages were remodelled compared to 2018.
? Testing, testing! #WRC #HMSGOfficial #RallyeMonteCarlo pic.twitter.com/9euAItjbSr
— Hyundai Motorsport (@HMSGOfficial) January 21, 2019
Hyundai Motorsport’s crews know well the demands of the classic rally
Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul took the team’s only Monte-Carlo podium in 2016 finishing third. That was just one place behind Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jæger-Amland. Their second place represents the Norwegians’ best result at the event to date. Hyundai Motorsport’s latest crew needs no introduction to the rigours of Rallye Monte-Carlo. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena will begin a new chapter in their illustrious WRC career at an event they have won seven times previously.
All three crews had the opportunity to test the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC ahead of Monte. Neuville and Mikkelsen got behind the wheel ahead of the WRC season launch in Birmingham at the beginning of January and last weekend. Loeb had a test on Sunday prior to recce.
Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul are the 2018 championship runners-up and have their sights set on a competitive Monte-Carlo
Their previous best result at the event was a third-place finish in 2016.
Neuville said: “We are revved up and determined to get the 2019 WRC season off to the best start possible. The tricky, demanding nature of Rallye Monte-Carlo is well documented. The combination of tarmac roads with unpredictable snow and ice conditions makes it a rally like no other. It is an event I enjoy. We’ve built up competitive pace in recent seasons, even if the results have not really been there. I expect – and hope – to fight for the podium, and I will even be looking to go for the victory if at all possible. There will be lots of strategies at play, especially with tyres, and we will need to be absolutely precise with our notes. We will give it our best shot and aim to get a good haul of points to start our 2019 championship campaign.”
Mikkelsen took third place in 2015 and second, with Jæger-Amland, in 2016
The Norwegian crew is targeting an improved season after a character-building 2018.
Mikkelsen said: “Here we go again, starting a brand new championship with two of my favourite events in a row – Monte-Carlo and Sweden. Anders and I have worked hard over the winter to learn from our first full season as a Hyundai Motorsport crew, as we aim to build a consistent and strong assault for 2019. Monte-Carlo is always a special rally, and a very difficult one to begin the year. I have often been quick in this event, having taken two podiums. We were also competitive in 2018, despite the final result, scoring a stage win and Power Stage points. Hopefully, we can get a positive start to the new season against another strong field of WRC entries.”
Nine-time champions Loeb and Elena joined Hyundai Motorsport for a six-rally program in 2019
They are Monte-Carlo winners on seven occasions between 2003 and 2013.
Loeb said: “Rallye Monte-Carlo is one of our favourites. Daniel, my co-driver, is Monegasque, so it’s his home rally for him, while it is also something of a home event for me as all of the stages are in France. Conditions can affect the road a lot at Monte, whether it’s full tarmac, snow or ice. The most complicated thing is to find the right rhythm and not to fall into any traps: there is every possibility of finding ice plates as the temperature drops overnight. You always have to adapt to the changing and unpredictable conditions. I have always been quite good in these circumstances. This year will be a particularly special one with a new team and a new car. We won’t have had a lot of testing time ahead of the rally, and there are lots of tough, new stages for me, but I am very motivated.”
Tests de la #i20CoupeWRC ✔️ Je suis plutôt confiant avant le départ même si on continuera à travailler pendant la course. Direction Monaco pour le début des recos demain ? #WRC #HMSGOfficial pic.twitter.com/hN9JCiU0tN
— Sébastien Loeb (@SebastienLoeb) January 20, 2019
Team Director Andrea Adamo added:
“We begin a new season in a refreshed state of mind and looking ahead to what promises to be another exciting, competitive and adrenaline-fuelled championship. The recent season launch in Birmingham revealed the new line-up of WRC cars for 2019 and plenty of ambition from all teams and crews. Monte-Carlo is the perfect place for battle to commence. Our objective and desire is to be in the fight for the manufacturers’ and drivers’ titles this year. To do that we have to take each rally as it comes, making sure we get absolutely everything out of ourselves on each kilometre of every stage. There’s no room for complacency or error, so we have to be rigorous, we must be focused and we have to work together as a team to deliver for Hyundai at the highest level of world rallying.”