Hyundai prepared to gamble to win Rally Japan

With two cars in the top three compared to Toyota's one, Julien Moncet feels his team has the edge


Hyundai deputy team director Julien Moncet says the team is willing to gamble on an aggressive strategy for the remaining stages of Rally Japan in an attempt to prevent Toyota from winning on home turf.

With Kalle Rovanperä falling down the order on Saturday morning after suffering with a damaged wheel and puncture, team-mate Elfyn Evans has been left isolated at the very front of the rally, being hunted down by the Hyundais of Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak.

Neuville is Evans’ closest challenger, currently 6.5 seconds behind, while Tanak is 26.9s off the lead.

Although Tänak is nearly half a minute down, he cannot be entirely ruled out with so many drivers having problems over the course of the rally, and with impending poor weather expected to arrive on Sunday.


Moncet believes the position of his two drivers and their current pace means the team can gamble in pursuit of victory over the remaining nine stages.

“Yeah, I think all in all we are in a good position. Being second and third I think anything can happen,” Moncet told DirtFish.

“We have seen again this morning a lot of drama and I think we are in quite a comfortable position.

“Toyota is only having one car fighting at the front, we have two. So we can maybe play a bit some gambles because we have a second car behind. So it’s not too bad.

“This afternoon is short but still mistakes can happen and tomorrow very likely the rain will come. So if we can manage to keep the gap as close as possible that’s not too bad.”

Moncet added that Neuville “is still cautious, not taking full risk” but wouldn’t be drawn on how Hyundai might gamble. But he did suggest that it could involve tire selection on Sunday if the weather does arrive.

“This we will see. I cannot tell you,” was Moncet’s response when asked how he would gamble.

“I think the main thing is we have more freedom in terms of tires than maybe Evans has. In terms of what we can do.

“I will not be surprised if [Toyota] go on a safe approach and we go safe and unsafe.”


However, while Moncet is keen to twist, Neuville believes that right now there’s no need to, at least until the end of the day.

“We will see. So far there is no need yet and tomorrow we will evaluate the situation,” was Neuville’s response when asked if he was prepared to take extra risks now to win.

Tänak, who will leave Hyundai after Rally Japan, didn’t really entertain the idea of any gambles though when asked about Moncet’s comments.

“I don’t really know what he’s thinking about. If it’s sunny then the rain tire isn’t too much difference, so let’s see.”