Mikkelsen joins Hyundai for Portugal

Andreas Mikkelsen will test a Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC on Friday with a view to joining the team from Rally Portugal next month onwards. Mikkelsen’s management team has been in negotiation with Toyota, Hyundai and Citroen in its efforts to get the former Volkswagen driver back into the World Rally Championship’s top class.

Andreas Mikkelsen

A deal to get Mikkelsen on the entry list for the Portuguese round is expected to be agreed within the week.

As recently as late last week it appeared Toyota was Mikkelsen’s most likely destination.

Autosport’s sources indicated Mikkelsen was being lined up as a potential replacement for Juho Hanninen, who has had a troubled start to his WRC return.

Autosport’s sister publication Motorsport News has the full story on Mikkelsen’s Toyota negotiations on Wednesday.

Those waters were muddied when Hyundai, winner of the last round in Corsica with Thierry Neuville, agreed to let Mikkelsen attend its pre-event Rally of Portugal test in Portugal this Friday.

It will be the first time Mikkelsen has driven a 2017 car since he tested the new-spec VW Polo R WRC last year.

He would not be drawn on specific details of negotiations, but told Autosport: “I hope something will be organised very soon.

“We are talking to everybody, but it’s not just this year or next year – it’s the future.

“It’s looking positive and more positive than when we were talking last time in Sweden.

“We have developed our conversations a lot, it’s going in the right direction.”

The decision to allow Mikkelsen to test the Hyundai has surprised many WRC insiders, given that Neuville, Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon all have confirmed contracts with the team until the end of next season.

One source told Autosport: “It looks like this is the start of Hyundai taking its WRC commitment to the next level.

“A four-car team for next year with those guys would be all-but unbeatable.”

Mikkelsen was the only one of VW’s three drivers who missed out on a 2017 contract after the German giant’s shock departure from the WRC at the end of last season.

Last year’s Rally Australia winner has kept his hand in with two dominant WRC2 wins aboard a factory Skoda Fabia R5 in Monte Calo and last time out in Corsica.