- A new era of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) kicks off at one of the sport’s most iconic events, Rallye Monte-Carlo, this weekend
- The opening round of the 2022 season will see the competitive debut of the all-new hybrid-powered Rally1 cars, with Hyundai Motorsport aiming for a strong start in its ninth year
- Three crews will be at the wheel of the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 cars: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (#11), Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (#8) and Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (#2)
The first chapter of a new challenge in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) begins at Rallye Monte-Carlo this weekend (20-23 January), with Hyundai Motorsport focusing on making a fast start to the Rally1 hybrid era.
Battling for victory in the new Hyundai i20 N Rally1 will be a line-up that boasts a combination of youth and experience, as the Alzenau-based team targets a renewed challenge for the manufacturers’ title in 2022.
Competing alongside the established pairs of Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe and Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja will be the youngest Hyundai Motorsport crew in the team’s history: 20-year-old Swede Oliver Solberg and his 27-year-old co-driver Elliott Edmondson. All three crews have worked extensively with Hyundai Motorsport’s new challenger ahead of the event in a bid to power themselves to the top of the classification over the course of the four-day rally.
Due to its treacherous and ever-changing conditions – which can feature a mixture of tarmac, snow and ice in a single stage – Rallye Monte-Carlo is one of the most challenging and unpredictable events on the WRC calendar. The 2022 edition of the rally will feature a new service park in Monaco instead of Gap, which had been the base of the event since 2014. There are also changes for the crews to manage on the stages, with almost 95 per cent of the route modified from the 2021 itinerary.
After a three-day recce, Rallye Monte-Carlo will begin on Thursday, 20 January with an opening ceremony in the iconic Casino Square before the crews take on two stages under the cover of darkness. Friday will push the brand-new Rally1 cars to the limit, with the day’s itinerary consisting of six stages without a midday service. Instead, there will be only a single tyre-changing opportunity sandwiched between nearly 100 kilometres of mountain stages. Saturday features five more demanding tests covering a competitive distance of 92.46 kilometres. Like Friday, the final day of the event has no service, as crews tackle four more stages in the Alps to determine the final positions.
Hyundai Motorsport’s preparations for the 90th edition of Rallye Monte-Carlo began in early December, with its crews putting the new Hyundai i20 N Rally1 through its paces amidst wintery conditions in the French Alps. The team conducted its final pre-event test last week in the Gap area, giving the drivers and engineers the opportunity to fine-tune the car’s set-up before heading to the start line for the season opener.
We are excited to see the debut of the new hybrid-powered Rally1 cars. This will be the culmination of an intensive period of technical development from our entire organisation. Our new car has undergone significant testing to prepare us for Monte-Carlo, which will be a tough event for all competitors. Reliability will play a key role as we put the new cars through their paces. For Hyundai Motorsport, our long-term target this year is to fight once again for the WRC titles. We know to achieve that it would be a big advantage to secure a strong result in the opening round. As a team, we will do all we can to get 2022 off to a positive start with our three crews.
Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (#11 Hyundai i20 N Rally1)
- Belgians took podium on partnership debut at 2021 Rallye Monte-Carlo
- Neuville claimed the team’s first victory at the event in 2020
Our main target in Monte-Carlo is to finish and gain experience in the car. I don’t think we are going to have a completely dry event, but I don’t think it will be full of snow either; as usual, we are expecting a mix of conditions. Because of this, it’s very hard to have the perfect tyre choice for all the stages, so it’s all about compromise next weekend – the driver who does it best is going to be the most competitive. Choosing the tyres is not so easy because you have to collect a lot of information, trust yourself and commit. It will be a challenge, but I like driving in these conditions, so it is going to be exciting.
Crew Notes: Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (#8 Hyundai i20 N Rally1)
- Estonian crew begins third season with Hyundai Motorsport
- Pair has previously claimed a hat-trick of podiums in the Principality
I think there is some uncertainty heading to Monte-Carlo, so it is important that we get through the rally without any major issues and keep the car running so we gain as much experience as possible – that will be the priority. Rallye Monte-Carlo is not as much about pure performance; it is about the reliability and the small decisions you make. Of course, we want to finish well and score many points for the championship this weekend. The very first stage in the dark with the new car will certainly be an adventure.
Crew Notes: Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (#2 Hyundai i20 N Rally1)
- Solberg begins first season as a Hyundai Motorsport factory driver in WRC
- Edmondson to join the Swede in the co-driver’s seat for the outing
Starting my first WRC campaign in Monte-Carlo is going to be very exciting. I think we have realistic expectations for the event – the most important part for us is just finishing and helping the team as much as possible. Rallye Monte-Carlo is an event where everything can happen; a stage can start with snow and end with tarmac, so it’s a very interesting and unpredictable way to begin the season with the new cars, but it’s also very exciting. I know I will take some time to find my feet, but I have the best guys in the team to learn from.
Weekend at a Glance
- Rallye Monte-Carlo kicks off on Thursday with an opening ceremony in Monaco followed by two stages run in the dark: Luceram / Lantosque (15.20 kilometres) and La Bollène-Vésubie / Moulinet (23.25 kilometres)
- Friday’s itinerary consists of two attempts of Roure / Bevil (18.33 kilometres), Guillaumes / Péone / Valberg (13.49 kilometres) and Val-de-Chalvagne / Entrevaux (17.11 kilometres) with just a tyre-fitting zone between the morning and afternoon loops
- Saturday begins with Le Fugeret / Thorame-Haute (16.80 kilometres), before presenting the challenge of two passes of Saint-Jeannet / Malijai (17.04 kilometres) and Saint-Geniez / Thoard (20.79 kilometres)
- Sunday features two loops of La Penne / Collongues (19.37 kilometres) and Briançonnet / Entrevaux (14.26 kilometres). The second pass of the latter will be the rally’s Power Stage