Hyundai Motorsport Driver Development Program crew Chewon Lim and Martijn Wydaeghe secured a top-ten finish in their first competitive outing together in the New Generation i20 R5.
Following the completion of their brand new chassis by the Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing department the duo were able to complete a day of testing in order to become more familiar with the car, before their competitive debut in the machine. They then travelled to the Saarland-Pfalz Rallye, the first round of the German rally championship, based in St. Wendel in the west of the country.
The rally started with three stages conducted in the dusk and darkness of Friday night on damp roads. In the unfamiliar conditions Chewon opted not to push too hard, instead focusing on avoiding mistakes as he added to his time in the car. Happily he and his Belgian co-driver were able to make it safely through the 25km of running to the overnight halt, with Chewon gaining valuable experience behind the wheel.
With consistent, mistake free, driving Chewon completed all of Saturday’s nine stages. With each one he increased his knowledge of the New Generation i20 R5, gradually learning to that he could be earlier on the throttle out of corners, to take advantage of the traction of the car’s four-wheel drive transmission. He and Martijn were also able to avoid the mechanical problems that took several crews from the rally as they set times that were competitive with the more experienced R5 teams leading the rally.
A succession of top-ten stage results, including a fifth best time on stage 10, moved them up the order into eighth overall to complete a strong start to their busy season as part of the Hyundai Motorsport Driver Development Program.
Chewon Lim said: “By completing every stage of the rally we achieved our main aim for the weekend. It was important that I got the most time in the car I could, so I could get the most experience in the New Generation i20 R5. During the test before the weekend I was able to adapt to the four-wheel drive and the extra power compared to what I drove last year. At the rally I tried to avoid pushing too hard and making mistakes, especially when I was driving in the stages in the dark on Friday. On Saturday I had more confidence in the conditions, and I was able set some good consistent times. We weren’t focused on how they compared to the other teams, but obviously to finish eighth is positive result for the weekend.”
Hyundai Motorsport team manager Alain Penasse said: “At this point of his career in the Hyundai Motorsport Driver Development program the Saarland-Pfalz Rallye was a very good event for Chewon. Moving up to the New Generation i20 R5 for this season it was important that he got the maximum number of kilometres in the car so he could gain as much experience as possible in the car. So to finish every stage is exactly what was needed. It was really good to see how competitive he was through the stages on Saturday, when he was consistently among the top ten stage times. That pace, together with the additional experience he gained over the weekend event should provide Chewon with a strong foundation for the season ahead.”
Chewon and Martijn will compete next in the Spa Rally (March 17-18), where the Belgian tarmac will allow him to continue to develop his driving in the New Generation i20 R5.