Hyundai are facing troubling times in the WRC.
In the first stage of the 2014 opener, both of Hyundai’s i20 WRC cars were eliminated, and the second round in Sweden wasn’t too good either, with German Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville suffering a 41 minute delay due to two running repairs on the i20.
Team Principal of the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team, Michel Nandan commented
Rally Sweden next week represents our next opportunity to develop the Hyundai i20 WRC and to collect valuable feedback and data.
Sweden is a specialised event where we will face several challenges; we have to ensure the car works in the extreme low temperatures, especially on road sections where the engine is not revving as high and make sure we have a good set-up for our cars to have as much traction and stability as possible.
The third main challenge is the presence of snow banks on the side of the roads; it is very easy for the engines to digest snow even in the smallest collision.
Despite the problems Hyundai face though, WRC fans are content with how things are going.
It is very rare for a new rally team to sweep the stage within the first few years. The team is just taking time to settle in according to Macklin Motors:
The Hyundai WRC are facing some tough challenges currently but we have every faith they’ll pull through. The WRC team are experienced and know what it takes to produce good results.
The 2014 WRC is Hyundai’s second rally attempt in a decade.
Since the company left, Citroen and Sebastian Loeb have dominated the sport, who won nine straight titles.
Now that Loeb has departed, though, it is Hyundai’s time to shine…but the team face steep competition from Volkswagen and their big budget Polo R WRC campaign. The VW driver is Sebastian Ogier, and he is the current reigning world champion.
What Hyundai need to do then, is build a strong team. Compared to the competition however they are building theirs slightly differently.
The team currently consists of 1 paramedic, 3 test cars, 3 rally drivers, 6 engineers, and 9 mechanics.
The team is being developed in-house with no outside support, which is rare for a WRC team, last time their efforts were placed with Motor Sport Developments (MSD) that used to be based in Milton Keynes.
Hyundai are putting trust in its engineers, technicians and sourced drivers to deliver.
This strategy carries a high risk – if they fail, they will face huge public embarrassment, but if they succeed, they’ll generate a lot of positive publicity and lay down the stepping stones for WRC 2015.
The i20 WRC car has 300 BHP and has covered 4,287 test miles. That’s on-par with other competing teams.
With Hyundai taking a risk in full view of the public, it’ll be interesting to see how far they can go in this year’s WRC.
The early setbacks won’t help, but a positive 5th place finish last year will have inspired the team to go further.