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WRC Rally Portugal

Hyundai’s plan to help Tanak unlock potential from WRC car

Hyundai has “some ideas” it will test this month to help Ott Tanak unlock the potential from its World Rally Championship challenger, according to team principal Cyril Abiteboul.

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Tanak has struggled to adjust to the i20 N Rally1 following his return to the Korean manufacturer this season but showed signs he’s made a stride forward by challenging for victory in Portugal earlier this month.

Tanak drove around his set-up struggles on Portugal’s gravel roads to finish a season’s best second, 7.9s adrift of rally winner Toyota’s Sebastien Ogier.

Tanak, who sits 31 points adrift of team-mate and championship leader Thierry Neuville, felt he could have won the rally had he avoided a puncture on stage 13.

Hyundai boss Abiteboul was encouraged by Tanak’s performance but believes there is more the team can do to tailor the car to his liking for the remainder of the season. Hyundai is also yet to decide how it will deploy its remaining homologation jokers for 2024.

“I’m happy with his [Tanak’s] performance as we are opening stint of seven rallies with a similar profile,” Abiteboul told Autosport.

“So the fact that not always but on occasions, he was feeling good with the car does show that we can expect something good from him in the following rounds.

“Having said that, he has given us a clear direction of what he wants to change and again, that is what we want.

“From an engineering side, it is good to have a new perspective and angle on things on what we need to do, and we will endeavour to do that as soon as possible.

“We have some ideas. There is indeed some limitation, but we have some ideas, and we will be testing some stuff in relation to that, and maybe for introduction this year.

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

“We still need to confirm exactly the two jokers that we want to use for this year, so we have some leeway there.

“I think what is interesting that Thierry has been able to drive around those limitations and I think by doing so does cost him a bit of speed.

“The fact that Ott is saying that he cannot do what Thierry is doing, there is something not quite right with the car. By helping Ott, I also believe he can help Thierry unlock an extra step.”

Abiteboul believes that Tanak is not suffering from a lack of belief and that the onus is on the team to extract the best out of its driver.

“It is not just him building his confidence; he doesn’t lack confidence or commitment,” he added.

“It is about us coming with the mechanical solutions, so he has a better feeling for how the car is going to respond.”

The WRC continues with a visit to Sardinia next week, which will feature a new 48-hour itinerary concept.

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