Mon 01 Jan 2024

HYUNDAI SHELL MOBIS WORLD RALLY TEAM

Hyundai made its return to WRC competition in 2014 with an all-new team and ambitious long-term plans for success in rallying’s top class.

Team Summary


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.


After a disappointing 2021 campaign, Tänak and Neuville led the 2022 attack, while Dani Sordo and youngster Oliver Solberg shared the third i20 N. After a rocky start to the WRC's hybrid-powered era, the team quickly picked up pace and, by the end of the season, had netted five victories to finish second in the manufacturers' championship.

Hyundai experienced a rollercoaster ride in 2023, with its WRC campaign overshadowed by the tragic loss of Craig Breen in a testing accident. The Irishman had returned to the Korean manufacturer and immediately showcased his pace, securing a second-place finish for his i20 N WRC Rally1 Hybrid at Rally Sweden. From Croatia onwards, Hyundais around the world sported Irish colours and the poignant #ForCraig message. Much loved and one of the sport’s brightest talents, Craig will never be forgotten.


Team leader Thierry Neuville emerged as Hyundai’s highest-placed finisher across 2023. Ending third in the championship and as the top non-Toyota driver, trailing only Kalle Rovanperä and Elfyn Evans, the Belgian demonstrated remarkable consistency with eight podiums in 13 starts.  


Esapekka Lappi also joined the team and made an immediate impact, leading in Sweden and Mexico. The Finn's comfort and speed aboard the i20 were the talk of the first half of the season. Unfortunately, a series of three crashes in four starts during the last five events caused him to plummet down the end-of-season standings.  


Dani Sordo and Teemu Suninen collaborated to contribute points and further progress from the third car, with Sordo's second-place finish at Vodafone Rally de Portugal being the highlight of the Spaniard's season.  


Hyundai heads into 2024 with, arguably, its strongest line up yet; unlike for any of its previous campaigns, all five front-line drivers have won at WRC level. Neuville and Ott Tänak lead the Hyundai charge for more WRC silverware but Lappi, Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Sordo will back the pair up in their rally-winning ambitions.

Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM