Neuville has three drivers in mind who could join Hyundai

Hyundai has said it would like an experienced driver line-up next year

Andreas Mikkelsen

Thierry Neuville says a return to the Hyundai Motorsport team for Andreas Mikkelsen could be a way forward for the beleaguered manufacturer in 2023.

Hyundai announced it would be parting company with Oliver Solberg on Thursday and there remains intense speculation about Ott Tänak’s future in an i20 N Rally1.

Asked his opinion on an inbound driver, Neuville said: “Andreas is an option. Elfyn could be an option – I’m sure even Kris [Meeke] would come back. I don’t know, I don’t know the contracts. Hayden [Paddon] could be an option as well.

“There are a lot of options, but I guess between Mikkelsen, Sordo and Elfyn, they are the three best.”

Andreas Mikkelsen

DirtFish understands Evans is under contract to remain at Toyota next season, but Paddon, Mikkelsen and Sordo would all be available to drive a factory i20.

All three have history at Hyundai, but only Paddon and Sordo have won at the WRC level with the team – and Sordo remains part of the current Hyundai picture.

Paddon’s allegiance with Hyundai New Zealand – with whom he dominated WRC2 in Auckland last week – would be the most logical choice. He only lost his seat when Sébastien Loeb agreed terms with Hyundai’s then team principal Michel Nandan for 2019.

Sources suggest, Neuville’s preference would be Mikkelsen.

Mikkelsen departed Hyundai at the end of 2019 and was critical of an i20 WRC he struggled to come to terms with. Following his departure from the team, he told DirtFish his time and results at Hyundai didn’t reflect the kind of driver he is.

After three years in the top class wilderness, Mikkelsen has made it clear he is ready for a return. Having completed his WRC2 program with Škoda this season, he made it clear he could drive for a manufacturer this season.

With Solberg’s Rally Japan entry pulled – could he be back in the car as early as next month?

Words:David Evans