The Hyundai Shell World Rally Team is set to embark on the last challenge of its maiden season in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Wales Rally GB the 13th and final round of the series this weekend.
For the last event of the season, the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team will once again field three Hyundai i20 WRC cars with Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul as lead crew in car number 7. Finns Juho Hänninen and Tomi Tuominen will join the team for the final round of the WRC behind the wheel of the number 8 Hyundai i20 WRC, while Hayden Paddon and co-driver John Kennard will be representing the Hyundai Motorsport N team with the number 20 car.
With a new base in Deeside in North Wales since 2013, Wales Rally GB is one of the oldest and most legendary rounds of the WRC, having been run for the first time back in 1932. It has been part of the Championship's calendar since its inaugural season back in 1973. The Welsh roads are characterised by their fast, muddy, slippery nature and form some of the most technical and challenging stages of the entire calendar.
With the end of the season rapidly approaching, the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team will be looking for another positive result, to continue the development of the Hyundai i20 WRC car and the team for the future.
Team Principal Michel Nandan said: "Wales Rally GB is a difficult event with a lot of parameters that can be hard to predict. It can be very muddy and very foggy and when the conditions are tricky it can suit better our Hyundai i20 WRC.
"We have seen that when it's down to pure performance and speed we have, perhaps understandably, lacked a little bit in our first season but when the conditions are more demanding we can close the gap and play a little bit more at the front we will then aim for a top five finish."
He added: "With Thierry, Juho and Hayden entered for Rally GB we have three drivers with a good level on gravel. We have seen in the past that Juho goes well when the conditions are not so easy. Thierry had a very strong result in GB last year and Hayden is showing more and more speed as he continues his progress. Wales Rally GB is an event he knows well so we would like to think he's capable of doing something special."
This will be Neuville's third appearance at Wales Rally GB, a rally which holds special memories for the young Belgian as he clinched second place in the WRC there last year.
Neuville said: "It feels special to go back to Wales Rally GB for Nicolas and I, as we were crowned vice-Champions there last year. For this year, we will make our best to finish the event without any problems but also trying to keep a good rhythm and set some good times with our Hyundai i20 WRC.
"Wales Rally GB is certainly not an easy one; the grip is changing constantly and it's very important to have a good recce and pace notes. Sometimes it's wet and there's a lot of grip, which can make it muddy hence very slippery straight away. We could also have some ice patches at this time of the year so all in all it's a big challenge."
by: Becca Chaplin