Andreas Mikkelsen will test a Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC in Portugal tomorrow with a view to joining the team from Rally Portugal onwards.
Mikkelsen’s management team has been in negotiations with Toyota, Hyundai and Citroen, with a deal expected to be agreed within the next week.
Late last week, Motorsport.com sources indicated that Toyota was the most likely option for Mikkelsen – potentially as a replacement for Juho Hanninen, who has suffered a troubled start to the season.
But those waters were muddied when Hyundai agreed to let Mikkelsen attend its pre-event test in Portugal tomorrow
This will be the first time Mikkelsen has driven a 2017 car since he tested the new-spec Polo R WRC last year.
The Norwegian wouldn’t be drawn on specific details of negotiations, but told Motorsport.com: “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 has surprised many of the sport’s insiders, given that Thierry Neuville, Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon all have confirmed contracts until the end of next season.
One source told Motorsport.com: “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 Volkswagen’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.
He has however kept his hand in with two stunning WRC2 wins aboard a factory Skoda Fabia R5 in Monte Carlo and most recently in Corsica.
Previously, Mikkelsen said he was open to competing in more rallies for Skoda if the Czech marque wanted him to leads its title assault on the secondary
Pictures: Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool