Top 50 Drivers of 2022
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Top 50 Drivers of 2022

Autosport 2022 Top 50: #50 Mikel Azcona

Expectations were high coming into 2022. A switch from Cupra to BRC Hyundai raised the stakes, especially as the 26-year-old was replacing newly retired tin-top legend Gabriele Tarquini, who became his team manager.

But Azcona matched and surpassed Hyundai’s hopes. Four wins in the World Touring Car Cup were the result of a new-found maturity and consistency that made him an easy champion, especially when Cyan Lynk & Co and its reigning double champion Yann Ehrlacher departed in a huff over Goodyear tyres. He would likely have beaten them anyway.

The Spaniard was also fifth in the eTouring Car World Cup, where he was Hyundai’s top performer.

What next for WTCR’s final champion?

Mikel Azcona is a proper elbows-out touring car racer. But the aggression that coloured his reputation during the early Cupra years is now matched by a canny understanding of what it takes, tactically in races and strategically across a season, to win championships.

Sadly, he won’t get to defend his World Touring Car Cup title now the troubled series has folded. So what’s next?

OPINION: Why departing WTCR is a world cup that will be missed

It would be fascinating to see him in the rough and tumble of the British Touring Car Championship. But without knowledge of the UK tracks that would be a massive risk. He’s forged a strong bond with Hyundai this year, so until the FIA’s plans for international touring car racing become clear he might have to settle for another eTouring Car World Cup campaign in its Velostar N ETCR. But will that be enough for a talent who should be making the most of his new status as a tin-top world champion?

Azcona has a WTCR title to his name but his future remains unclear

Azcona has a WTCR title to his name but his future remains unclear

Photo by: WTCR

When Autosport asked him about his future ambitions back in the summer, Azcona professed to a love for Le Mans and sportscar racing. But how and with whom? At season’s end he claimed to be happy just to enjoy the sweet moment of securing his WTCR crown.

So would he have beaten Cyan Lynk & Co and reigning double champion Yann Ehrlacher, had they kept their toys in the pram following Goodyear’s embarrassing tyre failures? In our opinion and given how well Hyundai played the Balance of Performance game with this year, yes – the 2022 title was always his for the taking.

“Of course, as a driver you want to fight until the last moment, but that’s not something in your hands,” he replied when asked by Autosport if Cyan’s withdrawal had disappointed him.

“You cannot control what they decide. Even without them the championship was very tough, with Honda, with Bebo [runner-up Nestor Girolami], the Audi drivers and Rob Huff as well. He was very quick in some rounds. I really enjoyed the season and we have to be proud. The level of competition was incredible.”

Right now, Azcona’s future looks cloudy. But he’s an ambitious young man. Those clouds will part somehow and in some way, and then watch him fly once more.

Azcona appears likely to stay in touring cars with Hyundai

Azcona appears likely to stay in touring cars with Hyundai

Photo by: WTCR

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