Despite double disappointment with both cars retiring from the 2014 WRC Monte Carlo rally on day one, the all-new Hyundai i20 WRC showed promise on its first world rally outing.
The Shell-sponsored souped-up superminis driven by Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo showed a great turn of pace.
Belgian Neuville was actually on the pace of eventual rally winner and reigning WRC champion Sebastien Ogier over the first few kilometres of the initial stage, but lost control of his car after 9km.
Neuville admitted he turned into the icy turn a little too fast, meaning his Hyundai i20 WRC slid off the road, spinning and impacting a telegraph pole with the rear right corner.
It might not have been the end of his rally, but for the crash bending the on-board jack.
This meant he and his co-driver could not jack the car up and remove the broken component underneath to allow the car to re-join the road – that meant he had to retire.
The same was true for Neuville’s teammate Dani Sordo. A small electrical fault meant he could not re-start his car, which forced the only remaining Hyundai i20 WRC out of this year’s running of the Monte Carlo rally.
Hyundai is treating the 2014 season as a development year in preparation for next year’s all-new Hyundai i20 road and WRC cars.
Although the Korean firm does have previous WRC experience, last competing way back in 2003, rallying has changed a lot in over 10 years.
The German-based outfit were not disappointed however, and is collectively looking forward to the next round of the championship.
Neuville on his 2014 Monte Carlo rally:
“I really want to move on from this and focus on Rally Sweden, where we want to come back strongly.”
Team principal Michel Nandan continues the story:
“The car was quick in the conditions and Dani set the second fastest time in SS4, which was encouraging.
“Hyundai Motorsport has only been in existence for one year. We have completed 8,000km with the Hyundai i20 WRCs in testing but Rallye Monte-Carlo was our first proper test and we are here to learn.
“Monte Carlo is a special rally so it’s not easy to draw comparisons but generally speaking we showed that Hyundai is here to compete seriously. We will learn from this experience and move onto Sweden in a positive manner.”
We’re looking forward to Hyundai’s assault on Rally Sweden, so we’ll keep you posted with how the cars perform.
In the meantime, we want to know what you think of the Hyundai i20 WRC car? Like the looks? Like the sound of a whole host of hot Hyundai road cars in the future with WRC input?