The Korean firm wasn’t new to the WRC. It competed in the F2 category between 1998 and 2000, before switching to a World Rally Car version of its Accent saloon until 2003.
Hyundai’s return was heralded by the unveiling of a prototype i20 World Rally Car at the Paris Motor Show in September 2012. Things moved quickly, with the establishment three months later of a new motorsport base in Germany.
Former Peugeot WRC technical head Michel Nandan was brought in to oversee the task of creating a fully operational team, a rally-specification i20 and developing a brand new motorsport facility - all from scratch and in 12 months.
At the wheel throughout 2014 was the previous year’s championship runner-up, Thierry Neuville. Hyundai was clear from the off that the season would be a development year, but it showed plenty of promise and Neuville led a surprise 1-2 result in Germany.
The team’s breakthrough came in 2016 when Neuville firstly put the i20 on the podium at Rallye Monte-Carlo and then Hayden Paddon’s dominant maiden victory in Argentina made people sit up and take note.
Neuville matched the performance two rallies later in Sardinia and after two victories and 12 podiums, Hyundai secured second in the championship.
There was a common theme to 2017 and 2018. Neuville and Hyundai led both championships before fading away in the second half of the season and having to settle for more runners-up finishes.
The squad rang the changes for 2019. Andrea Adamo took over as team principal and nine-time champion Sébastien Loeb joined Neuville, Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Sordo at the wheel. A steely strategic approach was rewarded with its first manufacturers’ title.
Newly-crowned world champion Ott Tänak made a shock switch to the Korean squad for 2020 and Hyundai squeezed home at the final round to secure back-to-back successes.
Tänak and Neuville lead the 2021 attack, with Dani Sordo and Craig Breen sharing the third car.