Hyundai cautiously optimistic after shock Finland WRC win

An unexpected victory in Finland has left Hyundai Motorsport cautiously optimistic it has turned a corner after a difficult start to the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era.

Hyundai cautiously optimistic after shock Finland WRC win

Ott Tanak clinched a first WRC win for Hyundai on Finland’s iconic fast gravel roads last weekend, after the Estonian produced an against-the-odds performance to defeat Toyota at the Finnish-based team's home event.

PLUS: How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera’s Finnish homecoming

Tanak’s success was Hyundai’s second win of the 2022 season after the 2019 world champion had also claimed the top honours in Sardinia back in June.

But the team’s start to the WRC’s hybrid era has largely been disappointing, its 2022 campaign with the i20 N littered with reliability and performance woes that stem form the South Korean marque’s late commitment to the new rules.

This has also played out amid internal struggles within the squad following the departure of long-time team principal Andrea Adamo late last year.

However, Rally Finland marked the second event where there was no sign of any reliability issues, while Tanak proved the i20 N has the speed to take on Toyota.

It has left deputy team director Julien Moncet confident his team is taking strides with the development of its 2022 car.  

“I hope a corner has been passed, but we have to be cautious as well because we had a similar result in Sardinia and after the following races were not so positive following that,” said Moncet.

“We have to be very careful not to be too optimistic. We have to enjoy the result but it should not put us away from our target which is to have this result every rally.

Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1,  Julien Moncet, Deputy Team Director & Powertrain Manager, Hyundai World Rally Team, Sean Kim, Hyundai

Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1, Julien Moncet, Deputy Team Director & Powertrain Manager, Hyundai World Rally Team, Sean Kim, Hyundai

Photo by: Romain Thuillier / Hyundai Motorsport

“Of course we are always developing the car. We will continue, we know the car is far from being perfect and we will continue pushing, and hopefully this will give us more boost to push even more. 

“Already in Estonia we had almost nothing [in terms of reliability issues] and here as well.

“It is very good as we have lost a lot of points and opportunities due to reliability issues, so it is positive for us. Hopefully we can focus more on the performance.” 

While Tanak led Hyundai’s charge, the team’s other senior driver Thierry Neuville struggled to find the confidence to tame the tricky i20 N in Finland, finishing more than two minutes adrift in fifth. 

Neuville did openly admit that Finland’s gravel roads have never been among his favourite conditions in the WRC, and is expected to shine on home soil in Belgium next week. 

However, the four-time WRC runner-up has revealed that the car could be set for even more rapid progress in the not-too-distant future.

“If he [engineering consultant Christian Loriaux] gets the green light to do what he wants, I think we will progress even quicker,” he said when asked about the team’s plans.

As previously reported, Hyundai is unlikely to release a significant update package for its car until October at the earliest. 

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