Hyundai I20 N Hybrid Rally1 (2022)

Hyundai I20 N Hybrid Rally1 (2022)

Hyundai Motorsport is powering into a brand-new era of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with its Hyundai i20 N Rally1 challenger and a four-crew line-up that is intent on delivering more success for the team in 2022.

As two-time manufacturers’ champions, Hyundai has reaffirmed its commitment to the WRC by fully embracing the sport’s new Rally1 hybrid regulations, which come into effect from Rallye Monte-Carlo (January 20-23).

The team has worked tirelessly to develop its new contender for its ninth season at the pinnacle of international rallying, carrying out an intensive test and development programme. Based on the Hyundai i20 N road car, the WRC version will further cement the link between motorsport and Hyundai’s production car technology, as the team targets more victories and championship titles in 2022.

President of Hyundai Motorsport Scott Noh said: “We are excited to be part of this new hybrid era of WRC and to demonstrate Hyundai’s firm commitment to international motorsport. WRC is about putting the most technically advanced cars, driven and navigated by the best crews, on the world’s toughest stages: the 2022 season is set to take things to the next level. Furthermore, from a corporate perspective, it is important for Hyundai to be associated with road-relevant technology; the WRC move to hybrid brings together the brand’s motorsport and road car activities. We are confident we have the package to fight for our third manufacturers’ title – and to support our crews to be in the hunt for the drivers’/co-drivers’ titles too.”

At the helm of the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 cars for all rounds of the 2022 championship will be the team’s rally-winning crews Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe and Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja. Both will be keen to make an impression in the title chase after mixed fortunes in 2021.

Neuville will be aiming to add to his victory tally in 2022, with the Belgian now boasting 15 WRC wins entering his ninth year with Hyundai Motorsport. In his first season with co-driver Wydaeghe, the pair quickly established a potent partnership that amassed two victories and a total of seven podiums. In their third campaign with the Alzenau-based team, the Estonians will be the only world champions competing in all rounds of the 2022 season. The crew has performed strongly in its first two years with the team, taking two wins and eight podium finishes in 2020 and 2021.

A third Hyundai i20 N Rally1 will be shared throughout the season by Swedish rising star Oliver Solberg, who steps up to the manufacturer team after demonstrating exciting pace in selected rounds last season, and experienced Spaniard Dani Sordo. Solberg will be co-driven by Elliott Edmondson, while Sordo begins his ninth season as a Hyundai Motorsport driver in 2022 alongside Cándido Carrera.

Crews will tackle a 13-round calendar covering the WRC’s usual mix of terrain – gravel, tarmac, snow, and ice – with returning favourites and new additions. Rally New Zealand and Rally Japan are set to make their belated debut, having been forced to relinquish their rally for the past two seasons due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hyundai Motorsport Team Manager Pablo Marcos said: “We are fortunate to have one of the most versatile crew line-ups in WRC to tackle one of the most eclectic calendars we have seen in recent years. We hope that the unique combination of Thierry, Ott, Oliver and Dani will bring us the right mix of experience, youth, and passion to deliver the results we’ve worked so hard to achieve. It is a case of third time lucky for the new events in New Zealand and Japan, to which we have been looking forward for some time. There’s a lot of intrigue and unknown for the 2022 season, which will keep WRC front of mind for motorsport fans around the world.”

While the new events will be welcomed by crews, the entire championship will be a bold step into the unknown with the introduction of WRC’s hybrid technology. Hyundai Motorsport has been testing its new Rally1 car since May last year, putting the vehicle through its paces on different surfaces around Europe.

The new Rally1 technical regulations have been established to showcase WRC’s commitment to a sustainable future, as well as improvements to safety and equality between competitors. Hybrid technology has been introduced into WRC for the first time, necessitating a new approach to rally car development, along with 100% sustainable fuel.

The Hyundai i20 N Rally1 is the product of the new regulations – combining a traditional 1.6-litre internal combustion engine with a common plug-in hybrid unit – and the breadth of experience built-up by the team over eight competitive seasons in WRC.

Hyundai Motorsport Deputy Team Director Julien Moncet said: “We have welcomed the technical challenge of WRC’s new hybrid era. It promises to be a step into the unknown for every team, but we are confident we’ve done the best job possible with our Hyundai i20 N Rally1. The main objective has been to combine the internal combustion engine and the plug-in hybrid unit, getting all the components working together harmoniously within the chassis. We have carried out testing with the car in different scenarios on different terrain to gather as much real-time data as possible. Our simulation test in October put the car through a representative experience of a real rally weekend, and from that we’ve been able to further tune the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 ahead of its competitive debut. The car’s performance level will only really be known when we get to the rally stages against our competition.”

Hyundai Motorsport’s quartet of crews are all relishing the new hybrid challenge with each driver ready to unleash the full potential of the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 on the world’s most demanding stages.

Thierry Neuville said: “I always love to start new adventures and challenges, so that’s the most exciting part about these new hybrid regulations. Our target remains unchanged from previous seasons. As a team we want to fight for the manufacturers’ championship again, but the drivers’ title is always one of my personal targets, which we are chasing. In this new era, everybody is going to want to show their performance, as well as their reliability which is going to be crucial this year. We have made good steps with our new Hyundai i20 N Rally1. With every test, we have been able to feel more comfortable in the car, but the beginning of the season is a learning period for all crews and teams. I can really see an exciting season but probably with a lot of ups-and-downs for everybody.”

Ott Tänak said: “The target for this season is easy: to win. There is a big challenge ahead but it’s exciting and I’m certainly looking forward to the fresh start. Everybody in the team has been working hard; with the regulations changing there hasn’t been much time to relax. For sure, it’s been a big effort. The key for this season is reliability. We need to get the cars through the rallies, to give them maximum mileage and to get as much experience as possible. It will also be important to get the best performance out of the new hybrid engines and to use the correct mapping strategy. There will be a lot for us to learn but we want to win another championship and we will fight hard for that this year. I am fired up.”

Oliver Solberg said: “It is a dream come true for me to be joining a factory team for the first time. I am very excited; it’s just fantastically cool to be starting this new season. The fact that the cars are completely new for everybody helps me a little bit. I feel quite prepared and confident but it’s just a great opportunity to be in this new era from the start. These cars are awesome. They sound better than ever and are very fast. I certainly feel good in the Hyundai i20 N Rally1, and it’s quite enjoyable with that extra bit of power.  The main thing for me is to have a consistent year. It’s a learning curve. I am still very young, so it is good for me to work with the other drivers who have a wealth of experience. I feel ready to step up.”

Dani Sordo said: “For me, it will be a very special year because of the new hybrid era. There are many new elements to consider so it will be a big challenge for everybody. The cars will be really nice with the performance – and fast, which we have already seen in testing. The fans can already see and hear from some testing videos that the sound of the car is amazing too. I think it will be a ‘proper’ year of WRC. I am particularly excited to be sharing the third car with Oliver, and to work with all my team-mates. They are like a family to me, and I really want to push to have the best results we can to take back the manufacturers’ championship.”

 

Hyundai Motorsport Preview Round 1 – Rallye Monte-Carlo

The first chapter of a new challenge in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) begins at Rallye Monte-Carlo this weekend (20-23 January), with Hyundai Motorsport focusing on making a fast start to the Rally1 hybrid era.

Battling for victory in the new Hyundai i20 N Rally1 will be a line-up that boasts a combination of youth and experience, as the Alzenau-based team targets a renewed challenge for the manufacturers’ title in 2022.

Competing alongside the established pairs of Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe and Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja will be the youngest Hyundai Motorsport crew in the team’s history: 20-year-old Swede Oliver Solberg and his 27-year-old co-driver Elliott Edmondson. All three crews have worked extensively with Hyundai Motorsport’s new challenger ahead of the event in a bid to power themselves to the top of the classification over the course of the four-day rally.

Due to its treacherous and ever-changing conditions – which can feature a mixture of tarmac, snow and ice in a single stage – Rallye Monte-Carlo is one of the most challenging and unpredictable events on the WRC calendar. The 2022 edition of the rally will feature a new service park in Monaco instead of Gap, which had been the base of the event since 2014. There are also changes for the crews to manage on the stages, with almost 95 per cent of the route modified from the 2021 itinerary.

After a three-day recce, Rallye Monte-Carlo will begin on Thursday, 20 January with an opening ceremony in the iconic Casino Square before the crews take on two stages under the cover of darkness. Friday will push the brand-new Rally1 cars to the limit, with the day’s itinerary consisting of six stages without a midday service. Instead, there will be only a single tyre-changing opportunity sandwiched between nearly 100 kilometres of mountain stages. Saturday features five more demanding tests covering a competitive distance of 92.46 kilometres. Like Friday, the final day of the event has no service, as crews tackle four more stages in the Alps to determine the final positions.

Hyundai Motorsport’s preparations for the 90th edition of Rallye Monte-Carlo began in early December, with its crews putting the new Hyundai i20 N Rally1 through its paces amidst wintery conditions in the French Alps. The team conducted its final pre-event test last week in the Gap area, giving the drivers and engineers the opportunity to fine-tune the car’s set-up before heading to the start line for the season opener.

“We are excited to see the debut of the new hybrid-powered Rally1 cars. This will be the culmination of an intensive period of technical development from our entire organisation. Our new car has undergone significant testing to prepare us for Monte-Carlo, which will be a tough event for all competitors. Reliability will play a key role as we put the new cars through their paces,” says Julien Moncet, Deputy Team Director. “For Hyundai Motorsport, our long-term target this year is to fight once again for the WRC titles. We know to achieve that it would be a big advantage to secure a strong result in the opening round. As a team, we will do all we can to get 2022 off to a positive start with our three crews.”

 

Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (#11 Hyundai i20 N Rally1)

  • Belgians took podium on partnership debut at 2021 Rallye Monte-Carlo
  • Neuville claimed the team’s first victory at the event in 2020

“Our main target in Monte-Carlo is to finish and gain experience in the car. I don’t think we are going to have a completely dry event, but I don’t think it will be full of snow either; as usual, we are expecting a mix of conditions. Because of this, it’s very hard to have the perfect tyre choice for all the stages, so it’s all about compromise next weekend – the driver who does it best is going to be the most competitive,” says Neuville. “Choosing the tyres is not so easy because you have to collect a lot of information, trust yourself and commit. It will be a challenge, but I like driving in these conditions, so it is going to be exciting.”

Crew Notes: Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (#8 Hyundai i20 N Rally1)

  • Estonian crew begins third season with Hyundai Motorsport
  • Pair has previously claimed a hat-trick of podiums in the Principality

“I think there is some uncertainty heading to Monte-Carlo, so it is important that we get through the rally without any major issues and keep the car running so we gain as much experience as possible – that will be the priority. Rallye Monte-Carlo is not as much about pure performance; it is about the reliability and the small decisions you make,” says Tänak. “Of course, we want to finish well and score many points for the championship this weekend. The very first stage in the dark with the new car will certainly be an adventure.”

Crew Notes: Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (#2 Hyundai i20 N Rally1)

  • Solberg begins first season as a Hyundai Motorsport factory driver in WRC
  • Edmondson to join the Swede in the co-driver’s seat for the outing

“Starting my first WRC campaign in Monte-Carlo is going to be very exciting. I think we have realistic expectations for the event – the most important part for us is just finishing and helping the team as much as possible,” says Solberg. “Rallye Monte-Carlo is an event where everything can happen; a stage can start with snow and end with tarmac, so it’s a very interesting and unpredictable way to begin the season with the new cars, but it’s also very exciting. I know I will take some time to find my feet, but I have the best guys in the team to learn from.”

Weekend at a Glance

  • Rallye Monte-Carlo kicks off on Thursday with an opening ceremony in Monaco followed by two stages run in the dark: Luceram / Lantosque (15.20 kilometres) and La Bollène-Vésubie / Moulinet (23.25 kilometres)
  • Friday’s itinerary consists of two attempts of Roure / Bevil (18.33 kilometres), Guillaumes / Péone / Valberg (13.49 kilometres) and Val-de-Chalvagne / Entrevaux (17.11 kilometres) with just a tyre-fitting zone between the morning and afternoon loops
  • Saturday begins with Le Fugeret / Thorame-Haute (16.80 kilometres), before presenting the challenge of two passes of Saint-Jeannet / Malijai (17.04 kilometres) and Saint-Geniez / Thoard (20.79 kilometres)
  • Sunday features two loops of La Penne / Collongues (19.37 kilometres) and Briançonnet / Entrevaux (14.26 kilometres). The second pass of the latter will be the rally’s Power Stage

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