Hyundai Motorsport heads overseas for the third round of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Rally México. The team is aiming to continue its competitive start to the season. Consecutive podium results in the opening two rounds have seen the team outline its ambition and potential in a tantalising battle between the four manufacturer teams. Rally México will present the first true gravel event of the season. It takes place in climatic conditions that offer a stark contrast to those faced in Rallye Monte-Carlo and Rally Sweden.
Hyundai Motorsport will once again field a three-crew line-up. Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio are joining Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul and Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger-Amland. The Spaniards, who will line up in the #6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, will begin their first WRC outing of 2019 on the back of victory with the Hyundai i20 R5 in Rali Serras de Fafe last weekend.
— Hyundai Motorsport (@HMSGOfficial) March 4, 2019
Hyundai Motorsport has taken numerous podium results in Mexico over the years
They include its first-ever WRC top-three result in 2014. There’s also its best finish to date in the rally – second place, secured by Sordo twelve months ago. The aim is to target one better than that in this year’s event.
Team Director Andrea Adamo said: “From ice and snow, we move onto the hot and equally tricky conditions of Rally México, where we want to assert our rally-winning credentials for this WRC season. The first two rallies of 2019 have delivered an exciting spectacle and we have been able to feature strongly in the battle. However, against extremely tough opposition, we have to re-double our efforts and push that bit harder for the results we know we are capable of scoring. For Dani and Carlos, this is their first WRC event of the season but they have already begun the year with a winning mentality, having taken victory in Portugal with our i20 R5. We hope this will have a positive impact on all three of our WRC crews in Mexico.”
Neuville is second in drivers’ championship after two podium results in a row
Neuville said: “We have got the 2019 season off to a solid start with two satisfying podium results. It’s early days in the championship but we have shown our pace and potential, as well as identifying areas of improvement. Mexico, as always, will be a different challenge. It’s the first rally of the year with hot temperatures, a real contrast to Monte-Carlo and Sweden, as well as being high up in the mountains. The reduction of oxygen at altitude will mean less horsepower for the engine, while the heat makes life more demanding in the cockpit for the driver and co-driver. It’s a rally where we’ve fought for podiums in the past, so we know what we have to do to be successful.”
— Thierry Neuville (@thierryneuville) March 6, 2019
Fourth place in Sweden represented Mikkelsen/Jæger-Amland’s best result since Mexico 2018
Mikkelsen said: “The difference in conditions from Sweden to Mexico could not be greater! It is one of the warmest rallies of the season, at high altitude and with some long, hard gravel stages. The combination of heat and height makes it a gruelling rally for crews and cars. The altitude reduces the engine power output, which means we are constantly looking for something more from the car. The start of the season has brought some positives for us as a crew, and for the team. We were fighting for second place in Sweden, so we’ll be hoping to feature near the front in Mexico too.”
Mexico will be Sordo’s first WRC event of the season, a rally where he finished second in 2018
Sordo said: “I am happy to be starting my first WRC event of the season, having followed the opening rallies very closely. The other crews have already warmed themselves up at Monte-Carlo and Sweden, even in the cold conditions. Now it’s time to begin our own season! Carlos and I used Rali Serras de Fafe as a way of preparing ourselves for Mexico, and we had a successful weekend in the Hyundai i20 R5. We will use this experience, as well as Thursday’s shakedown, to get quickly up to speed, as we aim to fight for the podium. Mexico is a tough event but one I enjoy and with incredible support from the fans.”
— Dani Sordo (@DaniSordo) March 6, 2019