- Hyundai Motorsport has outlined its summer plans as pandemic restrictions continue to be lifted across Europe
- The team has kept busy during the downtime but has now started to adapt to revised schedules in WRC and WTCR, as well as ramping up its Customer Racing activities
- Proposed participation in rally events in Italy and Estonia will be supported by development of customer cars and an online esports tournament in WTCR.
- Hyundai Motorsport has resumed operations at its Alzenau factory in recent weeks as the company pivots in response to ever-evolving schedule changes caused by the impact of COVID-19.
The company has around 50% of its workforce still working from home as Germany adopts a gradual return to normality. Employees working from the factory are following strict social distancing and other precautionary measures as they go about their daily business.
The FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) has confirmed cancellation of planned events in Finland and New Zealand, which means the season will not resume until mid-September at the earliest. Meanwhile, the WTCR - FIA World Touring Car Cup has announced a revised calendar starting at the Salzburgring over the weekend of 12-13 September.
Despite what appears to be a further three months of inactivity in WRC and WTCR, Hyundai Motorsport is keeping its operations high with a keen desire to resume competition to entertain fans. The company has outlined its aim of participating in a number of events during the summer, including Rally di Roma Capitale (July 24-26), Rally di Alba (July 31-August 2) and Rally DirtFish in Estonia (August 7-9).
The Rome-based event will see two Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC cars in action with Dani Sordo and Customer Racing Junior Driver Pierre-Louis Loubet in the driving seat. In addition, there will be numerous customer entries with the Hyundai i20 R5, starting with Craig Breen and Customer Racing Junior Driver Callum Devine.
The Alba rally will see two factory-entered i20 Coupe WRC with Loubet in a customer WRC car. There will also be two i20 R5 cars in the event, one apiece for Breen and Jari Huttunen.
Thierry Neuville will join local hero Tänak in Estonia, with Huttunen again taking to the wheel of the R5 test car.
Customer Racing operations remain a key focus for Hyundai Motorsport, as the team builds cars and fulfils orders that were put on hold due to the pandemic. Development of the R5 and TCR cars is ongoing with tests planned initially within Germany in July before additional European locations over the summer. As more and more series resume their activities in the wake of COVID-19 - including the start of TCR Europe at Circuit Paul Ricard in France at the end of August - Hyundai Motorsport remains ready to provide the usual dedicated support to its customers to get them back on track.
Elsewhere, in the virtual world, Norbert Michelisz and Luca Engstler will join the line-up for an all-pro WTCR esports tournament, set to be broadcast on Eurosport over a seven-week period starting from this coming weekend (June 14).
The pandemic remains critical in some areas of the world, and we are certainly not pressing ahead blindly. However, the situation in Europe has allowed us to resume some of our operations at Hyundai Motorsport with safety precautions and social distancing in place. We are reacting as best we can to an always evolving schedule. The recent cancellations of WRC in Finland and New Zealand mean we have an extended period of no championship action, so we’ve looked at how we might be able to keep active. We want to give our drivers and co-drivers the opportunity to compete and to put a smile back on fans’ faces. We are monitoring the circumstances closely but hope we can field our i20 Coupe WRC and i20 R5 in a handful of events this summer. We also want to maintain the rate of development on our TCR and Customer Racing activities wherever safely possible. This has been a challenging time for a lot of people, but there is some light at the end of the tunnel, so we must continue to take cautious steps back to our normal routines.Andrea AdamoTeam Principal