Wed | Dec 11, 2019

Hyundai Motorsport crowned FIA World Rally Champion

Published:Sunday | December 1, 2019 | 6:47 AM

Hyundai Motorsport has secured the maiden title in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), finishing the 2019 season with a margin of 18 points over its closest rivals in the manufacturers’ standings.

The title battle was concluded in a subdued manner after the cancellation of Rally Australia owning to the devastating bushfires in the New South Wales region. The Hyundai Motorsport team continues to send its thoughts and best wishes to all those affected.

In total, the team amassed four victories in 2019 en route to the manufacturers’ title – Tour de Corse, Rally Argentina, Rally Italia Sardegna, and Rally de España – as well as 13 individual podium results.

Delighted drivers

It was one of the company’s most versatile performances as the i20 Coupe WRC, performed consistently and competitively on all types of terrain. The Hyundai Motorsport Belgian crew, Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul, scored three of four wins, with Neuville finishing the season in second in the drivers’ classification.

“This has been a very special journey for us, and it is a pleasure to say we are now a FIA World Rally Championship-winning team,” said Neuville. “There have been so many highlights along the way. Every victory has been important, but more than just the results, the team has grown so much over the six seasons.”

Dani Sordo and Carlos de Barrio picked up their first victory with the team in Sardinia in June.

“We have been leading the championship for most of the season, and I think this is a very well-deserved title for the entire team. I’ve seen the Hyundai Motorsport family growing and progressing season by season, and I’m really pleased to finally clinch our first title together,” said Sordo.

According to Craig Breen, “It was very clear this year that everyone in the team was pushing really hard to try and make this dream happen. The way that the team has been so strategic, using different drivers at different events, it has allowed us to be in the position to complete the job.”

Andreas/Anders took three podiums and played a role in Hyundai Motorsport’s best result of the season, a 1-2 finish at Rally Argentina. Sébastien/Daniel frequented the top three in Chile, underscoring the strength in depth of the squad this season.

The journey to success

The manufacturers’ title has been the result of an intense and determined effort since the team’s establishment at the end of 2012. Starting from a blank sheet of paper, the team quickly built up a professional WRC outfit and a brand-new car based on the roadgoing i20 model.

From the start of 2019, under team director Andrea Adamo, the objectives were clear: to fight for Hyundai Motorsport’s first world title. Against fierce opposition from competitive rivals, the team dug deep to maintain – and then extend – its advantage at the top of the table before the season’s conclusion.

Thomas Schemera, executive vice-president of Hyundai Motor Group, head of its Product Division, said, “Hyundai Motorsport has truly captured the spirit of Hyundai and our N high-performance brand. The successes they have enjoyed over many seasons have been incredible to watch, and the influence on Hyundai’s road vehicles cannot be underestimated. It has been a privilege to watch the team’s determined fight for the championship – and to see them secure Hyundai’s first-ever WRC title against such tough opposition. Our team will now use the off-season to prepare for the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship with a revised crew line-up but even more heightened ambitions for success.”