Hyundai aiming for 2018 WRC 'perfection'

Murray Wenzel
Belgian Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville has won Rally Australia

Hyundai's team principal Michel Nandan will chase perfection next season after driver Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia on Sunday, but again finished second in the World Rally Championship.

Neuville survived a moment of madness to beat Ott Tanak by 22.5 seconds across an eventful three days of racing on the NSW north coast, slamming shut his door as it swung open mid-way through the final stage.

It was his fourth win this season as he repeated last year's second-place overall, even though champion Sebastien Ogier managed just two victories on his way to a fifth world title.

Ogier, of Ford-backed M-Sport, had already sewn up the honours before arriving in Australia, with only one retirement and a worst of fifth across 13 legs enough to stave off Neuville's best efforts.

Hyundai's Andreas Mikkelsen led the rally after day one, before a double puncture ended his push for back-to-back Australian titles.

With Mikkelsen now seemingly settled after winning in Volkswagen's WRC swan song last year, Hyundai will make a concerted push for the title in 2018.

But Nandan said they would need to work on the little things to get there.

"To be world champion you should be perfect everywhere," he said.

"We were not and that's the reason why; all these small details, everything is important, to be a world champion."

Neuville held his nerve on Sunday as heavy rain fell and threatened to tip the race on its head, Craig Breen rolling his Citroen and teammate Stephane Lefebvre hitting a tree.

The drama continued when second-placed Jari-Matti Latvala crashed just moments from completing the final stage, gifting third to New Zealand's Hayden Paddon.

"We obviously missed out on the championship, but we secured second place today and it gives us a massive motivation for next season," Neuville said.

Their tilt could be made easier if Ogier retires from the sport, something he has hinted at this year.

The former Volkswagen driver has remained tight-lipped this week about whether he will call it quits, remain at M-Sport or switch teams.

"I wish I could, I'm sorry to play a bit more on your nerves," he said when asked of his plans for 2018.