Hyundai Motorsport is prepared to push for the drivers’ title in 2024, its eleventh year competing in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).
With a bolstered squad of crews and upgrades to the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid, the team is aiming to secure more victories and points during the upcoming season.
Over the first two years of WRC’s hybrid era, Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team accumulated seven wins and 13 podiums. Despite this success, a championship crown eluded the Korean manufacturer. However, the team sees 2024 as an excellent opportunity to potentially claim its first drivers’ championship.
The two crews vying to take home the title for Hyundai Motorsport will be Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe (#11) and Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja (#8), with both pairings running a full programme in 2024. Neuville has been with the team since its debut WRC season in 2014 and played a vital role in the manufacturers’ championships claimed by Hyundai Motorsport in 2019 and 2020. Tänak and Järveoja were also part of the team’s successful 2020 campaign and return to Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team following a single year elsewhere.
Supporting Neuville and Tänak’s title challenges will be a trio of crews sharing the team’s third entry: Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (#6), Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (#4) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (#9). The responsibilities will be split based on the surface of the rallies, allowing each driver to take part at events that boast a favourable profile for their driving style. The aim for these vastly experienced crews will be to compete for podiums and steal points from Neuville and Tänak’s closest rivals.
Being more frequent rally winners is a core target for Hyundai Motorsport in 2024. To try to achieve this, the team identified reliability and weight as two key aspects of the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid that required improvement. Over the off-season, these areas have been developed and improvements wrought to increase the competitiveness of the car.
While success in 2024 is a priority for Hyundai Motorsport, the Alzenau-based team also has one eye on the future. The team views the upcoming season as another important step towards its goal for 2025 and 2026 – to be the manufacturer to beat in WRC.
2024 is also an important year for Hyundai Motorsport and its relationship with technical partner and title sponsor Shell, as the brands celebrate their ten years of strategic partnership. Over the past decade, Shell has supported the team across several iterations of technical regulations, including some of the most advanced cars ever to grace WRC stages. These innovative rally machines and their involvement in WRC have been a crucial platform for promoting Hyundai’s road-going cars and Shell’s technology leadership in the development of Shell Helix that delivers ultimate engine performance in the extreme rally conditions and on the road. Since the team’s debut season in 2014, the motorsport operations continue to inspire the company’s high-performance N brand vehicles of today and tomorrow.
Cyril Abiteboul said: “This year, we want to target more frequent wins, which we hope to achieve with our refreshed driver line-up and improved Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid. Also, given the nature of the 2024 season, we believe we can fight for the drivers’ title. Ott had unfinished business with the team, and once we started talking, we realised there was a mutual interest to finish it. Alongside Thierry, we have two drivers capable of claiming the crown. In our third car, we wanted to reward crews that we felt deserved the opportunity, as all three have shown loyalty to the team as well as impressive pace and ability over the past years. Bringing in talent in a number of areas, such as new engineers, mechanics, weather and sporting personnel, also strengthens the overall team as we look to push forward this year. Success in 2024 will be our focus and we are confident that we have the right pieces in place for this to be a reality. In addition, we also have a plan that looks forward into 2025 and 2026 that we intend to execute.”
Thierry Neuville said: “The targets for us in 2024 are the same as always: we want to be frontrunners throughout the whole season and fight for the championships. This will naturally be tough, and we will have to perform well at every rally to make it possible, but we will do all we can to push for the titles. We have a very strong line-up of crews this year and that will definitely help us battle for victories and podiums to have a successful season. The reorganisation of the team should also keep us moving in a positive direction. Our first goal will be to make a strong start at Rallye Monte-Carlo, an event where we have been competitive before and finished on the podium many times in the past.”
Ott Tänak said: “I’m very excited and motivated to be back with Hyundai Motorsport. I can see great excitement from the team and there is clearly a collective drive to achieve and produce a strong season. We will start the year on a clean sheet and it all will be in our own hands to start building a strong season. Of course, we aim to win the title and so does the team, so we are at the start of an exciting year.”
Dani Sordo said: “I am very happy to be back with the team for an eleventh season in 2024. I love to compete and fight against the best drivers in the world, so the motivation to continue at the highest level is certainly there. And I still have excitement for that moment when you get to the end of the stage and see your time. I think we have a very strong line-up of crews this year that I think can bring the team success. Every driver has lots of experience and we now also have a car that we can achieve good results in. My target is to be competitive at every rally that I am entered in and help the team – and my team-mates – fight for the titles.”
Esapekka Lappi said: “Competing in the third car with two other crews, our main target is to support Thierry and Ott in their challenge for the drivers’ title and help the team fight for the manufacturers’ title. However, this doesn’t stop us from going for wins, so we will push to finish as high as possible in every rally. Everything was new to us last year, so it helps that we now know the team and the car very well. During 2023 we were also able to develop the car more in the direction that suited my driving style, as well as making it faster. Overall, I expect that everything will feel far more natural this season and that we will be more competitive in 2024.”
Andreas Mikkelsen said: “For the past few years we have been fighting to get back into Rally1, so I am very grateful to have opportunity to compete against the big boys in the top category for Hyundai Motorsport in 2024. There are some familiar faces from when I was with the team before, but also lots of new people and new management that are moving things forward. For us, it is clear that our role is to help both Thierry and Ott win the drivers’ title. Performing well at each rally we do and taking points away from their rivals is why we are here. To finish ahead of those guys is always going to be tricky, but that is my aim.”