Why did Mikkelsen prefer Hyundai to a full-season with M-Sport on his WRC return?

Andreas Mikkelsen reveals that there was a proposal from M-Sport Ford for 2024, but he chose to have a partial programme with Hyundai Motorsport in 2024 as he sees more future with the Koreans.

The Norwegian driver lost his place at Hyundai Motorsport at the end of 2019, as he did not deliver the results that the team wanted when he was at the squad from 2018 to 2019, and took a step back on his career due to the fact that he did two outings in ERC and participated at Rally Monza in WRC3 class in 2020 driving a Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo. A year later, Toksport offered him a full WRC2 programme where he won three times and became the 2021 WRC Champion. Both parties extended their agreement for one more year, but Mikkelsen was not able to defend his title as his teammate Emil Lindholm crowned as the WRC2 Champion for 2022 season. After Ott Tanak's and Oliver Solberg's departure from Hyundai Motorsport at the end of 2022, the Alzenau-based team was examining its options for 2023 and Mikkelsen was among the drivers for the i20N seat, but eventually Esapekka Lappi, Dani Sordo and Craig Breen were confirmed by the Koreans as Thierry Neuville had a multi-year contract with them. As a consequence of that, Mikkelsen had to start very late his 2023 season as Hyundai Motorsport stopped answering on his calls and his future was unknown considering the fact that Toksport had already announced its crews for that year. However, he and Torstein Eriksen did their first WRC2 outing of 2023 at Rally de Portugal and managed to win the championship which means that Mikkelsen has now two titles in WRC2 class. 

For the 2024 season, Ott Tanak announced at the end of Rally Chile three months ago that he will return back to Hyundai Motorsport and will not continue his partnership with M-Sport Ford this year. Moreover, the Cyril Abiteboul's team confirmed Esapekka Lappi with a part-time programme before the start of Rally Japan while later Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Sordo completed the puzzle for Hyundai's roster as three drivers will share the third car and will support Tanak and Neuville on the championship. As a result of that, M-Sport Ford was unable to bring a big name to the squad for this year, thus the team chose two youngsters (Adrien Fourmaux, Gregoire Munster) to compete against its rivals.

"I see more future here at Hyundai", Mikkelsen said. 

"I think Hyundai is really properly in the WRC.

"Ford is half in I would say, and we all know this that it is Malcolm and his team and he gets some budget with Ford, and it is hard to say what the future is there.

"We could have had a full programme at M-Sport. 

"You have to think about your options and also long-term and when you see the people now at Hyundai with Cyril and FX, whom I know very well at Volkswagen, these are people that I trust. 

"So not only looking at this year I think it is a better choice for me at Hyundai.

"For me, it is a one-year contract, but I hope if I deliver well there could be more. 

"I think that would be natural".

Source: Motorsport.com

Photo Credits: Toksport

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