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Andreas Mikkelsen joins Hyundai

Andreas Mikkelsen joins Hyundai to drive I20 WRC car for final three 2017 rounds.

 

Andreas Mikkelsen joins Hyundai to drive I20 WRC car for final three 2017 rounds.

 

Andreas will partner Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo at next month’s RallyRACC Catalunya – Rally de España (5 – 8 October), with Hayden Paddon dropped for the mixed surface encounter.

Hyundai said its lineup for Dayinsure Wales Rally GB (26 – 29 October) and Kennards Hire Rally Australia (16 – 19 November) would differ from Spain but did not provide details.

It is likely Paddon will return, with Sordo missing out. Team principal Michel Nandan acknowledged the decision to make changes was not easy, but necessary in an effort to rekindle its manufacturers’ title hopes. Hyundai trails M-Sport World Rally Team by 64 points after poor performances at the most recent rounds in Finland and Germany.

“Discussions with Andreas have been ongoing since he was out of a drive but we had nothing to offer him, as our lineup was fixed,” he said.

“However, with us losing ground, we decided to re-evaluate the situation. We had an open discussion with all three of our crews and informed them of our decision to make this adjustment.”

Mikkelsen lost his full-time seat when Volkswagen Motorsport left the WRC at the end of 2016. He tested with Hyundai in Portugal in April, but speculation he would join its lineup soon after came to nothing.

Instead, he joined the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi squad, ushering in several updates to the troubled C3 car and driving three rallies, culminating in second place at last month’s ADAC Rallye Deutschland.

It is believed that Mikkelsen joining Hyundai for the final three rounds was conditional on being offered a longer-term deal for next season.

“It is a great team with some very talented people, and the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC has proven itself to be a winning car on every surface,” he said.

“I had the chance to test on gravel earlier this year. I had a really positive feeling, which I am sure we will find again in these last three events of the season. My aim is to do all I can to help the team in the manufacturers’ championship.

“I have a great belief in them and the car, so I am super excited. Anders (co-driver Jaeger) and I are ready for this and we hope it will be the start of something more long-term.”


 

Post photo - Courtesy of Red Bull Racing

Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) performs during FIA World Rally Championship 2016 Finland in Jyvaskyla on July 28, 2016


 




 


 

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New WRC era is ready for blast-off in Monte-Carlo

The 2017 WRC will generate more TV content than ever. Over 12,000 hours were broadcast globally in 2016 to a cumulative audience of over 700 million people and this season offers even more for fans.


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The build-up and fever pitch expectation is almost over as this week’s Rallye Monte-Carlo (19 – 22 January) heralds the start of one of the most keenly-anticipated FIA World Rally Championship seasons in memory.

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Dynamic new-look World Rally Cars will echo through the mountains of the French Alps as four of the world’s biggest automotive manufacturers begin the fight for supremacy in motorsport’s toughest championship for production-based cars.

The 13-round series spans four continents in an 11-month global tour, encompassing extreme temperatures that can reach a scorching 35°C in Sardinia and plunge to a bone-chilling -25°C in the harsh Swedish winter.

Much is new for 2017, and WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla believes the powerful and aggressive cars, developed from a blank sheet of paper to upgraded regulations, will be the stars of the show.

“Our fans are going to love the 2017 WRC! Footage from pre-season testing shows just how exciting these new cars are. A more macho appearance and increased performance will bring smiles to fans’ faces, whether they are watching stage side or on television,” he said.

“There’s a hugely positive feeling throughout the WRC family as we head into the season. The series boasts big names from the automotive industry, and it’s a compliment to the championship’s development that they have chosen to showcase their cars in an environment that offers global visibility from January to November.

“What is so great is the feeling of unpredictability about 2017 because nobody knows which teams, which cars or which drivers will shine. New rules, such as the start order and revised Power Stage points, have been put in place to ensure down-to-the-wire competition and I’m sure we will see many thrilling battles,” he said.

The Teams
Toyota, the world’s biggest selling car manufacturer, returns to the WRC after a 17-year absence. The Japanese giant is joined by multiple champion Citroën, which is back after a year’s sabbatical. Ford, in the guise of the British M-Sport team, and Hyundai, runners-up in both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ series in 2016, complete a stellar line-up.

The Cars
Aggressive, loud and moody – they are the new lightweight World Rally Cars that will battle for tenths of a second on dirt, asphalt, snow and ice.

They are bigger everywhere with larger bumpers at the front and rear and extended door sills which increase the width and provide increased safety. Larger aero devices, and more of them, including a huge spoiler and diffuser at the rear and a front splitter add to the ‘bulldog’ look.

Beneath the bonnet a wider restrictor on the turbocharger increases power from the 1600cc direct injection engine to 380PS. Electronic trickery in the form of an active central differential gives drivers a helping hand in balancing their cars.

The Drivers
The biggest news of the short end-of-year break was the decision of four-time world champion Sébastien Ogier to sign for M-Sport, for whom he will carry #1 on the doors of his Fiesta WRC. The Frenchman is joined by rising star Ott Tänak and Elfyn Evans.

Toyota has opted for an all-Finnish line-up of Jari-Matti Latvala, Juho Hänninen and Esapekka Lappi, while Citroën has chosen the youth of Craig Breen and Stéphane Lefebvre to join lead driver Kris Meeke.

There are no changes at Hyundai which has kept faith with its strong 2016 squad of Thierry Neuville, Hayden Paddon and Dani Sordo.

The Rallies
The championship comprises the same 13 demanding rounds as in 2016, but the order has been given a reshuffle. Corsica moves forward from September to April to provide a better balance of gravel and asphalt rounds. Monte-Carlo opens the season and Australia provides the finale.

Two rallies have changed their structure. Rally Sweden will operate around a central location at Torsby, while ADAC Rallye Deutschland has a new base at Bostalsee in northern Saarland.

Television
The 2017 WRC will generate more TV content than ever. Over 12,000 hours were broadcast globally in 2016 to a cumulative audience of over 700 million people and this season offers even more for fans.

The Sunday lunchtime rally-ending Power Stage programme, now established as a firm fixture across all rounds, will increase from 60 to 90 minutes. It will feature more interviews, extended coverage of the podium ceremony and reaction to the final result from the service park. Also new for this year is another regular live stage on Saturday afternoons.

Watch every stop of the WRC live on Red Bull TV this season. 


 

 

How will defending champion Seb Ogier perform in his first race for M-Sport?

Thu-Sun, Jan 19-22 – Text, photos & videos – Live on Red Bull TV

Mon, Jan 23 – Behind the scenes round up.

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