- By: Luis Costa
Hyundai Motorsport has signed new multi-year contracts with its current World Rally Championship drivers Thierry Neuville and Ott Tanak, which will see the Belgian and Estonian remain with the team beyond 2021.
The announcement confirms the two-time manufacturers’ champions willingness to continue to be at the forefront of the WRC in the upcoming future by continuing to work with two of the most talented and fast drivers among the field.
Neuville – who is currently running second in the drivers’ championship – has played a fundamental role in building up the Hyundai Motorsport WRC programme over the past seven years and has helped the team in reaching many important milestones along the way from the first victory at Rallye Deutschland in 2014 right up to the two consecutive manufacturers’ titles in 2019 and 2020, totalling 13 rally wins since his debut with the team.
The Belgian has built solid foundations being part of all eras of Hyundai Motorsport in the WRC, from the first generation of the Hyundai i20 WRC until the current specification Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC.
Joining Hyundai Motorsport as the World Champion in 2020, Tänak scored one memorable win at home in Estonia and three additional podiums being part of the team’s success and second manufacturers’ title in 2020. The Estonian has claimed his first win of 2021 at the Arctic Rally Finland in February with an assured performance, leading a Hyundai 1-3 at the all-new Finland-based WRC event.
Confirming those driver contracts already in May allows the Alzenau-based squad to efficiently execute the development of the brand-new challenger for WRC’s hybrid era as a team. The prototype, based on the Hyundai i20 N road car, will enter the testing phase in the near future.
Thierry Neuville said: “My intention was to continue the adventure in the World Rally Championship with Hyundai Motorsport and I’m happy to sign a multi-year contract with the team which became my second family. Besides the fact that I feel really well with them, their determination and target for victory convinced me to pursue the fantastic journey we started together more than seven years ago.”
“Their approach and ambitions on the new challenges coming next year, with the new WRC hybrid regulation, is also very promising. I love rallying and I’m not ready to stop! I’ve been dreaming about it since I’m a child and thanks to Hyundai and my strong motivation, dedication and determination, I continue to give my very best!”
Ott Tänak said: “I am really happy to sign a new contract with Hyundai Motorsport from 2022. Since 2020, we have shared many special moments together, as well as working through some more difficult times. Over the past two years I have seen the team’s commitment and their determination to succeed and I am sure that each and every one will continue to push the limits.”
“We are entering into the new era of WRC, as we are switching to the hybrid regulations and this means everyone will start from a blank page. Hyundai Motorsport has a huge knowledge and experience package of hybrid and electric technologies which will play a big role when we start developing the new Rally1 car. I am looking forward to the new era of the WRC, but we have still a job to do this year – making sure we send off the current generation of WRC cars in the best possible way.”
Team Principal Andrea Adamo said: “We are delighted to extend our relationship with Thierry and Ott beyond 2021 with multi-year deals. Working with these two talented drivers in the future demonstrates once again our continuous determination and ambition to succeed in the World Rally Championship and reaffirms Hyundai’s strong commitment to the series as it enters its new hybrid era in 2022.”
“Both have demonstrated to be exceptional ambassadors for the brand and the team and I would like to thank Thierry for his loyalty to Hyundai Motorsport since 2014 and Ott for trusting us and our work – we are very pleased to continue to collaborate with them now and in the years to come. We are beginning the crucial phase of testing of our new 2022 Rally1 challenger in the near future so together with Thierry and Ott, we can execute a smooth testing plan.”
“We can’t also forget that we still have a job to do together this year focussing on our goals for 2021 as well as thinking ahead to 2022 and beyond.”