Hyundai World Rally Championship driver Andreas Mikkelsen says the manufacturer’s i20 reminds him of Volkswagen’s all-conquering Polo.
Sebastien Ogier dominated the WRC with VW from 2013 until its shock exit at the end of the ’16 season, which left Ogier and his team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikkelsen scrambling for seats.
Ogier and Latvala found drives with M-Sport and Toyota respectively but Mikkelsen was forced to start the 2017 season with select outings in one of Skoda’s R5 WRC2 cars.
He joined Citroen for three events later in the year, and finished second in Finland, before switching to Hyundai for the final three rallies of the year.
Mikkelsen said the performance of the i20 on loose surfaces was similar to his experience of the Polo in which he won three rallies between 2015 and ’16.
“Especially coming back to gravel was very much feeling like going back to the Polo,” said Mikkelsen during the launch of the 2018 WRC season at Autosport International when asked if the i20 reminded him of the Polo.
“The [Citroen] C3 was a bit more difficult to drive it I found on gravel, on asphalt it was really nice.
“I feel now we’re in the best place possible to fight for the championship.
“I feel a lot more comfortable in the car, so I do believe that we have major possibilities for the year and we can fight for the top.”
Mikkelsen’s first full-time campaign with Hyundai will begin in Monte Carlo, on which he won the WRC2 class by more than three minutes last year with Skoda.
“We’re pretty much in control, we haven’t had too many tricky conditions yet, no ice or snow, we’re still looking for that at the moment,” Mikkelsen added.
“I’m sure by the start of Monte, we will be ready for the 2018 season.”
Hyundai to run four cars in Portugal
Hyundai boss Michel Nandan said Hyundai will run four cars on May’s Rally Portugal.
Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon, who will otherwise share a third i20 between them this season, will both contest the May event alongside regulars Thierry Neuville and Mikkelsen.
Hyundai has taken that decision to allow Sordo and Paddon to contest the same number of rallies in 2018.