- Hyundai Motorsport has named the six drivers to be part of the Customer Racing Junior Driver initiative for the 2022 season
- With four i20 N Rally2 and two TCR class competitors, the group includes drivers who will contest WRC2 and TCR Europe, as well as national rally and TCR championships
- Each driver will be able to call on the expertise of the Customer Racing department’s support engineers and have the opportunity to join tests as they forge their motorsport careers
The group features four of those running the i20 N Rally2, and two who will spend the year competing in the TCR category in Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing-built cars.
The program works to nurture young, talented drivers in both disciplines – helping them build their professional careers in motorsport on, and away from, the race circuit. Each was selected based on a combination of their performances in competition, and their professional approach to motorsport during a rally or race weekend, but also away from these events. The aim is that, with the support of the Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing department, the drivers can progress to compete at the highest levels, running in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup, or the premier class of the FIA World Rally Championship.
WRC experience leads i20 N Rally2 Juniors
All four of the i20 N Rally2 drivers selected for this season’s Junior Driver program have experience at the world level in RC2-spec cars, having contested a combination of WRC2 and WRC3 events in the past.
Both Josh McErlean and Grégoire Munster have run in the WRC3 class with the i20 R5. For 2022 the pair step into the i20 N Rally2 for the full season. After strong results in national and international events over the past two seasons, Irishman McErlean will focus on a full seven-event season in WRC2, once more with the PCRS team. Munster, too, will focus on the WRC2 season alongside a partial schedule in the Belgian championship. This follows his strong 2021 in the national category where he finished as runner-up after claiming his first overall win in the series – breaking the record for the youngest winner in the process.
After finishing the 2021 campaign in the new car, he will drive a BMA-prepared i20 N Rally2 for the full season this year, having started 2022 with a podium finish in the WRC2 Junior class at Rallye Monte-Carlo.
National glory is the aim of Frenchman Nicolas Ciamin. Combining with the 2C Competition team he will drive an i20 N Rally in pursuit of the French Tarmac Rally Championship with the support of Hyundai France. Ciamin has a wealth of experience in both the series and in Rally2-spec cars having driven many of the eligible models to considerable success, including the i20 R5 which he took a WRC2 podium in 2018 in Sardinia.
The rallying quartet is rounded out by Paraguayan Fabrizio Zaldivar, who combined a first WRC3 season with a domestic season as part of the Hyundai Paraguay-supported Automotor Rally Team he lifted the Super Prime championship – a series consisting of short events – in 2021, as well as scoring a first overall victory in the main national championship. This season he competes in both the Paraguayan championships, as well as events in the continental CODASUR series with an i20 N Rally2.
International and national series ahead for TCR duo
Of the two TCR competitors selected, one will focus on his second season in TCR Europe, with the other concentrating on mounting a second successful title defence in a national series.
Jáchym Galáš – the Czech the youngest of the six selected candidates at 20 years old – is another starting his second season as a Customer Racing Junior Driver, as he begins the second season in TCR Europe. After showing great progress through his debut year in the series with Janík Motorsport he remains with the team for the 2022 campaign, switching from the i30 N TCR to the Elantra N TCR.
The six drivers are completed by double TCR UK champion Lewis Kent, who is set to embark on a second title defence with the Essex & Kent Motorsport squad. However, after two successful seasons at the wheel of an i30 N TCR Kent will move into a new Veloster N TCR in search of a third national series title.
The selected drivers will be able to call on the support of the Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing’s support engineers, while their teams can rely on the same efficient spare parts service given to all Hyundai Motorsport customers. In addition, they will be invited to take part in tests with Hyundai Motorsport, where they will be able to work directly with the teams’ engineers, but also benefit from the mentoring from, and experience of, Hyundai Motorsports’ roster of WRC and WTCR stars.
Supporting young drivers coming through the ranks is a crucial part of the role of the Customer Racing department within Hyundai Motorsport. We aim to nurture our Junior Drivers as they build their careers in motorsport. The Rally2 and TCR categories present the perfect opportunity for this, with drivers able to remain with the same Hyundai cars as they progress from national to international competition – and then hopefully to either WRC events or WTCR with our teams. All of the individuals we have selected for the Junior Driver program this year have already shown they are very capable behind the wheel, with strings of successes already behind them. With the support we can offer them as Customer Racing Junior Drivers I am certain they will be able to continue to progress towards their ultimate goal and forge a career in professional motorsport.