Hyundai Motorsport has completed a successful development test of it’s Hyundai i20 Coupe World Rally Car on a surface that has traditionally not been the car’s most favoured terrain, the fast-flowing roads of Finland, with team drivers Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak taking turns in the hot seat.
All of the WRC teams were hit by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic so this test gave the Hyundai drivers and teams to back to some normality. It also allowed the planned development to continue which was cut short last week following an accident for Neuville and his co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul.
The test reportedly went very smoothly on the notoriously fast Finnish gravel roads for Neuville who turned 32 years old on Tuesday. For Tänak and his co-driver Martin Järveoja, two days of testing was their first in the car since Rally México three months ago.
Hyundai Motorsport has been steadily returning to its usual operations in WRC and across Customer Racing. While the company is sorry not to be competing in Rally Finland, there is a feeling of ‘back to business’ within the organisation and a hope of more positive developments to come.
“It has been important for us to test in Finland this week: to respond quickly to the incident that Thierry and Nicolas had last week and also to send a clear message that we are ready to start again and push forward together,” said Team Principal Andrea Adamo.
“We are sorry not to be competing in Finland this year, but it is a perfect venue to test with great organisation and some challenging roads. This has allowed two of our crews to get back in the car, to build confidence and to get used to the high speeds of WRC once again. We have also been working on some developments to the car, specifically to improve our performance on this surface.
“We tackle these issues head-on and always keep things in the pipeline for future implementation or homologation. It’s a merit to my people and our suppliers that we’ve been able to carry out three days of trouble-free testing, and nice to bring back some real-world rallying to lift the mood after a long and difficult period.”
Neuville added, “We were able to pick up straight away from where we left off last week, thanks to the efforts and reactions of the whole team. It was enjoyable to be back behind the wheel of our Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC.
“We spent two very productive days in the car on demanding but fun roads – and it was in many ways the perfect present for my birthday on Tuesday! We’re getting back to business and doing what we love.”
Tänak enjoyed the test and is happy to be back at work as he attempts to retain his championship title from 2019, “I have to say I have been missing the action, even if I already had the chance to drive the Hyundai i20 R5 last month; it feels great to be back in business with the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC again.
“I’ve been waiting to finally start to work with the team, as we’ve generated some new ideas for the car during the isolation period. I’m already looking forward to start implementing those now.
“On the sporting side, it’s really important for the drivers and co-drivers to get back into the routine and accumulate proper stage kilometres in a WRC car, before the racing starts, as the break has been quite long and it takes some time to get back into the rhythm. I really hope that the worldwide situation will get better and we can go back into the competition mode after this long period of waiting.”