One week on from securing the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) manufacturers’ title* in Australia, Hyundai Motorsport has regrouped at its Alzenau base where the company’s 200-strong workforce has collectively celebrated its achievements.
Hyundai’s name has been added to an impressive roster of winners in the WRC history books, as the company became the first ever South Korean manufacturer to take the championship. However, the roots of the company’s motorsport activities lie in the small German town of Alzenau, where Hyundai Motorsport GmbH was established in late 2012.
Over six competitive seasons, dating back to an inaugural season of WRC in 2014, Hyundai Motorsport has gradually built up its title-winning credentials with teamwork at the very heart of its operation. The company finished as runners-up in the title chase on three consecutive occasions from 2016-2018, but this year has seen the team’s most accomplished and consistent performances to date in WRC.
The season started with the clear objective to win the title under the guidance of new Team Director Andrea Adamo, a new crew line-up with Thierry Neuville, Andreas Mikkelsen, Dani Sordo and nine-time WRC champion Sébastien Loeb, and an ambitious plan of development for the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC car.
Hyundai Motorsport personnel were hopeful that 2019 would be the breakthrough year, with the hard working individuals working diligently and determinedly across all aspects of the operation. Close daily cooperation with colleagues at Hyundai Motor Company in South Korea enabled a truly international working relationship, and ensured all of the work from Alzenau makes a direct contribution to Hyundai’s N performance brand.
While test and development teams focused on identifying areas for improvement and enhanced performance from the technical package, there was also a bold decision to rotate crews in order to field the most competitive line-up at each round of the championship. It was a move that proved any critics wrong. Not only was the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC securing wins on gravel and tarmac, showing pace on snow and at altitude, but the crews were also delivering Hyundai Motorsport impressive results.
Hyundai Motorsport tackled the challenge head-on and was not afraid to take big decisions along the way. Thierry Neuville contested all 13 of the rounds that took place and finished second in the drivers’ classification. He was ably supported by the other crews, which also included Craig Breen in Finland and Wales GB. Andreas Mikkelsen helped secure a 1-2 for the team in Argentina with a strong second place, and ultimately took fourth in the standings; Dani Sordo took a spectacular win in Sardinia, his first as a Hyundai Motorsport driver; Sébastien Loeb put his years of experience to excellent use to register the team’s podium in Chile, while Breen was so competitive in Finland that he was able to support his teammate’s own title efforts.
Alongside the WRC successes over the years, Hyundai Motorsport has also developed its own Customer Racing infrastructure, becoming a valuable asset to Hyundai Motor Company and demonstrating high performance through championship titles with the i20 R5, i30 N TCR and Veloster N TCR cars.
Its customer team and driver secured the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup titles in 2018, and the i30 N TCR has gone onto show similar performance in 2019. Meanwhile, having helped crews to competitive victory in rallies around the world, Hyundai Motorsport has recently announced performance upgrades to the newly renamed Hyundai i20 R5 ’20. There is also a brand new chapter opening, as attention turns to electric racing.
Scott Noh, President of Hyundai Motorsport GmbH, commented: “Alzenau is the birthplace of Hyundai Motorsport, so it is fitting that we have celebrated our WRC title success with as many of our colleagues as possible. The WRC result really is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication by a skilled workforce, and the ideal illustration of our ‘never give up’ mentality. Alongside our Customer Racing and new electric programs, we are able to use WRC to demonstrate Hyundai’s high performance prowess and credentials. There is always room for improvement, and our focus has already turned to the next chapter in our history: WRC will play an equally big part in what comes next for Hyundai Motorsport.”
Andrea Adamo, Team Director of Hyundai Motorsport GmbH, said: “Throughout the WRC season, we rarely have the opportunity to take stock of what we have achieved. It has therefore been nice to share our manufacturers’ title with those who have made it happen – the team at Alzenau. With our WRC, Customer Racing and electric racing programs coming together under roof, we are starting to show that Hyundai is a true force in motorsport. We have added an historic WRC title to our WTCR accolades from last season, and we’ve shown that we are all team players unified by a clear objective of delivering results for Hyundai. Our crews have done a fantastic job in this regard. The decision to rotate crews proved to be the correct one and I am thankful to them for understanding and accepting this, even when it wasn’t always easy. To the rest of my people, I can only say: bring on next season where we want to perform even more strongly against renewed opposition.”
*Subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA