World Rally Championship

Preview Rally Poland

Fresh from a win in Sardinia, Hyundai Motorsport ventures to Rally Poland

Fresh from a win in Sardinia, Hyundai Motorsport ventures to Rally Poland

Hyundai Motorsport will be looking to add to its recent successes on gravel and extend its lead in all three championships at Rally Poland (June 27-30), the seventh round of the 2024 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) season.

Rally Poland is the first true high-speed gravel rally of the year, with fast passes, deep ruts and a bountiful supply of crests and jumps. The sandy surface can also drastically change in an instant thanks to the unpredictable Polish weather; rain can transform a trouble-free, dry loop into a potentially rally-ending mud bath. Regardless of the conditions, precision and commitment will be key to delivering a strong result at the demanding event, which hasn’t featured on the WRC schedule since 2017.

The three crews representing Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team will be Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe, Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja and Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen, with the Norwegians returning to the cockpit of the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid for the first time since Croatia Rally.

Following their first podium of 2024 in Portugal, Tänak/Järveoja continued their success at Rally Italia Sardegna, where they claimed their first win of the season. The victory was accompanied by a third-place finish for Spaniards Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera.

Championship leaders Neuville/Wydaeghe will be looking to bounce back after they recorded their first finish outside of the top five of the season in Sardinia. However, a strong Sunday run on the Italian island saw the Belgian duo only drop a handful of points to the chasing pack in the standings.

After seven years away from the WRC, Rally Poland returns to the calendar for its 80th anniversary round. The Mikołajki-based event has been a staple of the European Rally Championship (ERC) for several years, and prior to its WRC hiatus, Neuville claimed victory in the 2017 edition by almost a minute and a half. Twelve months earlier it was Mikkelsen who took to the top step in 2016, with Tänak following him closely in second place. A recent string of strong results and a line-up of crews who know what it takes to win on the Polish gravel creates a recipe for success, putting the Alzenau-based team on the front foot for its upcoming contention.

Hyundai Motorsport President and Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul said:

“Following a run of success at the previous few rallies, we have a lot of positive momentum with us as we turn our attentions to Poland. It’s a very fast gravel event and we know this is a preferred surface for our competitors at Toyota, so we are approaching this event as the challengers. We are still in the lead of all three championships and our line-up for this event now has two crews with wins this season, so we are excited to see if the car has made similar improvements on this surface as it has on others. Rally Poland hasn’t been on the WRC calendar since 2017, but Andreas has some more recent experience here in ERC rounds, so he will be an invaluable asset when it comes to bringing knowledge to the team. Past success for Thierry and Ott, including a win, gives us further confidence. We hope to bring back a good number of points to help us maintain our championship leads.”

Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (#11 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)

  • Belgians lead both the drivers’ and co-drivers’ championship
  • Neuville won 2017 edition of Rally Poland

Neuville said: “Rally Poland is an event that I really enjoy. As a fast gravel rally with some prominent jumps and crests, the stages can be really exciting and we can have a lot of fun. We need to make sure that we have the right setup and good pace notes from the start, as we haven’t done any testing on Polish roads. In terms of setup, we need a lot of grip and traction, but I don’t think it will be hugely different to other gravel rallies we have competed in this season. Starting first could be a huge advantage or disadvantage depending on how much cleaning of the road we will be doing, but we will have to see when we get there. We expect to be consistent and fast to bring home some decent points for all three championships.”

Crew Notes: Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (#8 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)

  • Estonians won previous round in Sardinia
  • Duo sits second in drivers’ and co-drivers’ standings

Tänak said: “My memories of Poland are great – it’s a rally that I have enjoyed a lot. It has very fast, demanding roads that can change massively depending on the weather, but I am really looking forward to it. I really like the profile of this event, and it’s similar to where I learnt to drive in Estonia. I was really close to winning my first ever rally in Poland, but it didn’t happen. Since then, I have finished on the podium a few times, so I know I can perform well but still have some room for improvement. Hopefully we can find a good feeling in the car to give us the amount of confidence needed to push across the whole weekend.”

Crew Notes: Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (#9 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)

  • First WRC round for Norwegians since Croatia Rally in April
  • Recent ERC experience in Poland gives the #9 crew an edge

Mikkelsen said: “I am very excited to be back with the team in Poland after their recent success in both Portugal and Sardinia. Rally Poland is a super-fast event with a sandy surface, so you can make the most of the ruts in a stable and fast car like ours. I haven’t driven the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 competitively on gravel yet, but with two days in the car before the event I am hoping to find the right setup for the weekend there so I can be ready to take my fight to the front of the field. Road position is also crucial at this event and very dependent on the weather, so it will play a major part in my weekend. I am hoping to be fighting for the important positions throughout the weekend. I have had two podiums and a win here and I would like to replicate these good results once again.”

Weekend at a Glance

  • Rally Poland commences on Thursday morning with Shakedown, followed by SSS1 Mikołajki Arena (2.50km) in the evening
  • Friday’s itinerary features two loops of Stańczyki (SS2/5, 29.40km), Wieliczki (SS3/6, 12.90km) and Olecko (SS4/7, 13.20km) before closing with another run of Mikołajki Arena (SSS8, 2.50km)
  • Saturday has the longest competitive distance of 124.10km across seven stages: Świętajno (SS9/13, 18.50km), Gołdap (SS10/14, 19.90km), Czarne (SS11/15, 22.40km) and SSS12 Mikołajki Arena 3 (2.50km)
  • Sunday concludes the weekend with four stages, including the Power Stage: SS19 Mikołajki 2 (10.73km).

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