- Tom Cave and James Morgan won the British Rally Championship event at the West Cork Rally, the first victory in the series for the Hyundai i20 R5
- Hyundai España supported crews started the national tarmac championship with a double podium on the Rallye Sierra Morena
- Hyundai Veloster N TCR drivers Mason Filippi and Harry Gottsacker moved up to second in the points after finishing fourth in the Michelin Pilot Challenge at Sebring International Raceway.
However, teams also scored podiums in national competition in Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands. Meanwhile, Hyundai Motorsport built TCR cars continue to show their pace in endurance racing on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
Hyundai i20 R5 claims first British Championship victory
Tom Cave claimed the first British Rally Championship victory for the i20 R5 at the West Cork Rally (March 16-17), the second round of the 2019 season. Cave and co-driver James Morgan finished third overall on the event, which brought together teams from the British championship and their Irish Tarmac counterparts. The pair was part of a close battle for the BRC win throughout the weekend, but moved ahead after setting the fastest times overall on stages 13 and 14 to claim maximum points for the national series and a spot on the overall podium.
Podium places for Hyundai España supported crews on tarmac season opener
A pair of i20 R5 crew ended the Rallye Sierra Morena (March 21-23) on the overall podium to begin the tarmac rally season in Spain.
A total of five Hyundai R5 took the start, the best represented manufacturer in the premier class of the rally, and the early standings backed up the strength in numbers. Iván Ares led into the overnight halt after winning two of the four stages held on Friday afternoon. José Antonio Suárez held third place at the same point, with Surhayen Pernía in fourth overall.
Suarez retired from the rally on Saturday morning, but Ares and Pernía remained part of the podium battle and took a fastest time apiece on the day. Ares was edged into second place, claiming his 21st national series podium at the wheel of an i20 R5. Victory on the Super Special final stage put an exclamation point on Pernía’s run to third on his first rally with new co-driver Alba Sánchez González.
Top five in European competition for Portuguese pairing
Team Hyundai Portugal pairing Bruno and Hugo Magalhães mastered treacherous conditions to take fourth overall in the Azores Rallye (March 21-23), the Portuguese round of the European Rally Championship. They also claimed the points for second position among those running in the national series.
Still learning the car, the duo were safely in the top ten at the start of the final day after a consistent drive on the island’s gravel roads. However, with heavy rain and fog greeting the crews for Saturday, the Hyundai crew came alive. From eighth at the start they climbed up the order courtesy of top three times on each of the last four stages. The move into fourth was confirmed on the final run, giving the team a spot on the Portuguese national championship podium. Importantly, as well as conquering the conditions and claiming the points the crew felt they had learnt crucial information about the handling of their car in their second Hyundai outing.
Victory as Tempestini begins 2019 in an i20 R5
Simone Tempestini began his partnership with Hyundai customers Friulmotor at the Rally dei Laghi (March 16-17) in northern Italy. He and co-driver Sergiu Itu won two of the three stages on the opening leg to establish themselves in the overall lead. Their move to the top of the standings was all the more impressive as the weekend marked their first visit to the event, while many of the other R5 crews could boast several years’ experience of the rally.
Despite the disadvantage, they held the lead through the second loop of three stages to complete the perfect warm-up before their WRC2 run on the Tour de Corse.
Overall podium to start the season in the Netherlands
The Dutch championship got underway to an excellent start from i20 R5 crew Bob de Jong and Bjorn Degandt. The duo ran in the top four for the duration of the Zuiderzee Rally (March 15-16) and won five stages on the second day of competition as they pushed for the overall victory. They had closed to just 10 seconds behind the overall leader before the final service, and the last leg of the race, two runs in darkness of a 22km stretch – by far the longest of the rally.
There, a change to the car set-up worked against them, losing time in the overall standings but still remain in clear in second overall to claim maximum points in the Dutch championship and add to their knowledge of the i20 R5 for a season that has started with such promise.
Customers kick-off seasons in France, Austria and Madeira
i20 R5 customers began their seasons in France, Austria and Madeira, at the start of international and national campaigns. In France, the national tarmac championship got underway with the Rallye Le Touquet - Pas de Calais (March 15-16). Sarrazin Motorsport ran two cars on the event for the returning Quentin Giordano and Hyundai debutant Dominik Dinkel, beginning a season that will take him to rallies across several series around Europe. Giordano rolled out of the top ten, leaving Dinkel to collect 13th overall, despite a costly puncture.
Hungarian Lovász Pál will compete on both a national and international level under his LPWM Sport banner. He started his season with the first event of the Mitropa Cup, the Rebenland Rallye (March 15-16).
Miguel Nunes claimed third place at the Rali Município de São Vicente (March 15-16), the opening round of the Madeira rally championship. The Portuguese driver completed a consistent run on the event – never falling out of the top four – and cemented his place with a string of good stage times to claim a spot on the overall podium.
American Veloster crew move up the championship standings
Bryan Herta Autosport’s Veloster N TCR drivers Mason Filippi and Harry Gottsacker moved up to second place in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge after the series’ two-hour race at Sebring International Raceway (March 15). The young pairing drove their black liveried machine to fourth place in the race on the infamously rough circuit, claiming a second top five finish of the season.
Their teammates Mark Wilkins and Michael Lewis were on course for at least a podium finish until late in the race. After being part of the lead battle for much of the race after qualifying third fastest the pair was penalised late in the race. Still, they were able to rebound from the setback climbing back to sixth position in a race that hosted the largest entry list of TCR cars yet in the USA.
Double podium begins Nürburgring endurance campaign
Hyundai Motorsport’s challenge for the Nürburgring 24 Hours began with a two-team entry in VLN1 (March 23). Both cars, the i30 N TCR driven by Peter Terting and TCR Germany champion Hari Proczyk and the Veloster N TCR shared between Manuel Lauck and Marc Basseng, held the lead of the TCR class during the race.
Making its European race debut the Veloster lead the class through the first stint of the race, but was running third in class at the fall of the chequered flag. Terting and Proczyk, meanwhile, finished second and took fastest lap in the class, the pair of Hyundai four seconds quicker than the next best car in the class around the 24km lap. The pace marked a strong start to preparations for June's 24 Hours.
March has proved a busy month for our Hyundai i20 R5 customers, and they have made fantastic starts to their national championship campaigns. Third overall in the West Cork Rally is a great achievement, especially as the Irish tarmac stages are a unique challenge, but the first win in the British championship is a superb way to show what the i20 R5 is capable of. Our customers have podium results to begin their seasons in Portugal and the Netherlands, and it is very encouraging they still feel they are only learning the car, so there should be more to come. The same is true of our TCR teams at the Nürburgring. To have both the Hyundai i30 N TCR and Hyundai Veloster N TCR on the class podium is good, but more important is that we came away with extra information as we prepare for the longer races ahead.