Hyundai Motorsport has unveiled its full team line-up at a special launch event in Frankfurt today, as the manufacturer gears up for its debut in the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship at Monte Carlo next month.
Hyundai Motorsport has set realistic targets for its debut season with the primary objective of finishing each rally event with two cars. The young team will approach each rally with the goal of accumulating vital knowledge and data in order to strengthen its foundations for subsequent years. Going up against vastly more experienced WRC competitors, the team knows that it has a steep learning curve, but it certainly relishes the challenge and will be aiming to compete for podium places during the season.
“We have worked tremendously hard to get where we are today and to be able to launch our new WRC team to the world,” explains Team Principal of Hyundai Motorsport GmbH, Michel Nandan. “In less than one year, we have built and tested a brand new WRC-specification car, the Hyundai i20 WRC, and established a professional team and modern motorsport facility. It’s a huge accomplishment but we know that we have a lot to learn in our first season. Our aims for 2014 are realistic: we want to finish each rally with both cars and build up a database of information and experience so we can develop ourselves into prospective rally winners in the future. If all goes well, we will hope to be competing for occasional podiums as the year progresses.”
The launch event was held at the home of Hyundai Motor Europe in Offenbach, just a short drive from Hyundai Motorsport’s facility in Alzenau, where final preparations are taking place for the team’s rally debut in just over one month. Over 150 journalists and guests attended the event to see the newly liveried Hyundai i20 WRC and team on display.
The complete line-up for 2014 includes a new title partner, Shell, which will see the team named Hyundai Shell World Rally Team. The multi-year partnership will see Shell Helix-Ultra logos adorn the Hyundai i20 WRC at all WRC events.
Thierry Neuville made his first public appearance in Hyundai Motorsport colours as the team’s lead driver, while Juho Hänninen, who will drive the second i20 WRC at selected events, was also present. It was also announced that both Dani Sordo and Chris Atkinson will partner Neuville at several events during the season, with Sordo running on Rallye Monte-Carlo and Atkinson confirmed for Rally Australia.
“I am really excited at the prospect of helping Hyundai Motorsport to integrate itself into the tough WRC environment,” said Neuville. “It is an honour to be representing a manufacturer like Hyundai Motor Company but also to have the extra responsibility of leading the team in our first season. I am looking forward to Monte Carlo. I can already feel the professionalism, motivation and passion of this team so although it will be a steep learning curve, I am sure it will be a positive one.”
Hyundai Motor Company also used the occasion of its WRC launch to announce that Hyundai “N” will be used to symbolise Hyundai’s high performance technology on both the i20 WRC car and future mass-produced high performance cars. Linked directly to the company’s renewed involvement in WRC, “N” brings together Hyundai Motor’s technology and innovation with the learning from motorsport to provide a new experience for customers.
Representing the company’s passion for high performance, “N” takes inspiration in both name and spirit from the Namyang R&D Centre that has collaborated with Hyundai Motorsport on the development of the i20 WRC. The Namyang R&D Centre is at the heart of the technological innovation and development that serves as the driving force behind Hyundai’s growth as a global brand.