Hyundai swaps Mikkelsen for Loeb for Rally Portugal 

Hyundai Motorsport has announced an important change to its line-up with just over a week to go before the start of the Rally Portugal. Sebastien Loeb will be taking Andreas Mikkelsen’s seat on the i20 Coupe. The French driver, together with Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo, will make up Hyundai’s team at the Portuguese round of the World Rally Championship (WRC).


“This decision was not taken lightly. We need to move forward as a team and make the most effective use of our versatile crew line-up. We are trying hard to find a way to get Andreas’s confidence back (…) When you have a line-up like ours and look at the results from Chile, it’s necessary to react quickly – Explained team director Andrea Adamo -. 

Such a decision evidences the loss of confidence from the team from Alzenau towards their Norwegian driver and his irregular performance. Mikkelsen’s loss of position within the Korean formation since Adamo took over as director earlier this year is common knowledge.



Initially, it seemed as if Mikkelsen had his participation in all of the WRC 2019 appointments guaranteed despite the change in management. He competed in the opening race in Monte Carlo but was forced to suddenly surrender his place to Sordo in Corsica. The situation is repeated now at just seven days before the start of the Portuguese race.


Not even his good result in Argentina served to improve his Adamo’s opinion about him. Mikkelsen’s performance in Cordoba was outstanding and it reminded everyone of his best self from times past. He finished second right behind his teammate Neuville.

Two weeks later, however, at Rally Chile, he disappointed the boss again. When Neuville had to retire after his accident everyone was counting on him to prop up his team in the standings, but he only managed a mediocre seventh place.

After the Chilean episode, the driver from Oslo might have also put his participation in Rally Portugal in jeopardy. Mikkelsen is definitely in the spotlight and his value is increasingly being put into question. He needs to react fast.

The only way to reverse the situation is for him to start fulfilling the expectations that have been deposited on him. Adamo has made it clear that he can ground him without even flinching if he sees it fit. 

Meanwhile, Sebastien Loeb, his ‘rival‘ for the seat of the i20, did amazing in Chile, starring in a vibrant duel with the other Sebastien Ogier for second place.

It wasn’t to be in the end but Sebastien Loeb´s determination and rhythm were extraordinary. His great state of form has both reinforced his status within the team and extended his participation on the WRC program. Initially, he was only due to take part in Monte Carlo, Sweden, Corsica, Chile, Germany and Spain but now Hyundai has extended his commitments and prominence, even outside the WRC.

Sebastien Loeb will now take the start at the Rally di Alba and the Grand-East Vosges Rally, two key races for data collection on the i20 WRC. The criteria of the most successful driver in history has clearly taken prominence over that of the ‘wandering Scandinavian’.

On top of that, Mikkelsen’s bad results in 2018, when he finished in a discreet sixth place, continue to weigh heavily on his shoulders and to play against him within Hyundai.

Images; Sebastien Loeb & Hyundai Motorsport

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