Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe
WRC Rally Estonia

Hyundai confident it will avoid prop shaft issues at WRC Rally Estonia

Hyundai World Rally Championship boss Cyril Abiteboul is “80-90% confident” the prop shaft problems that plagued Esapekka Lappi in Kenya won’t return in Estonia this weekend.

Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Lappi suffered three failures related to the i20 N Rally1’s prop shaft that ultimately curtailed a realistic shot at a podium, while shining a spotlight on the team’s reliability concerns.

Hyundai is aware that it will need to re-design the component in the future to fully fix the problem, but containment measures are in place for this weekend’s fast gravel round in Estonia.

Abiteboul says a subsequent investigation into the failures has revealed that Lappi’s driving style is likely to have been a contributing factor in the failures that occurred only on the #4 entry. But the former Renault Formula 1 boss insists his squad will find a permanent fix for the prop shaft in the future, which will require the use of a homologation joker. 

“It is a tough one. We have been looking a lot and we had the opportunity of some tests that we had already planned mainly to work on the set-up characteristic development of the car, but we added to the mix more understanding of this issue,” Abiteboul told Autosport. 

“It is a complex issue because clearly there was a combination of factors and probably you have to put on top of these factors some driving style of Esapekka and that is not a criticism.

"It is up to us to design and build a car that can cope with any driving style, and especially a fast one and clearly Esapekka has been quick. It looks like it is a fact that there is something in the way that Esapekka is doing, some combination, and is a bit harsh on the prop shaft.

“We have done a few things that again are under authority without changing anything to homologated parts for this weekend and hopefully that should be good enough. I am 80-90% confident that we will not hear about the prop shaft this weekend. 

“In the medium-to-long term clearly we will have to design and most likely homologate a new part but that is when the [homologation] session is going to open because we are very restricted to change things.   

“We are still in the process of forming up our [development] plans trying to come up with the best compromise between reliability and performance. We still have a good car in certain conditions and hopefully that is one of those this weekend but in certain conditions we are behind.”

Cyril Abiteboul, Team principal Hyundai World Rally Team

Cyril Abiteboul, Team principal Hyundai World Rally Team

Photo by: Austral / Hyundai Motorsport

Lappi says he has no worries over further prop shaft failures heading into a weekend which presents a strong opportunity to challenge for victory on roads that suit his driving style. The Finn’s chances have increased following the news of a five-minute engine change penalty for M-Sport driver and home hero Ott Tanak.  

However, he admits that beating shakedown pacesetter and championship leader Kalle Rovanpera will be difficult.   

“We are not worried [about the prop shaft],” Lappi told Autosport.  

“We have investigated what is going on and we have some idea what was causing it and we will try to avoid now by some stuff, but in the end, it has only been a problem in Kenya. We have done a lot of testing now this year and last year and we have never had a problem.

“The car felt good last week [in testing] and not too bad on the shakedown, but one guy [Kalle Rovanpera] is a bit too fast. 

Read Also:

“For sure, we would like to match the speed of Kalle and Toyota but it feels a bit difficult. 

“I have quite good confidence now in the car to challenge in every rally for the podium and even higher, so I’m not even more excited than before.”

Lappi was third-fastest in shakedown behind Rovanpera and Hyundai team Thierry Neuville, prior to Thursday evening’s opening stage. 

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Engine change dashes Tanak’s WRC Estonia victory hopes
Next article WRC engine update to put Toyota on par with Hyundai

Top Comments

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe