Christopher Columbus and Florent Peronnet are very much on the same page when it comes to America. More than five centuries down the road since the Italian explorer caught site of the east coast, 2C Compétition’s team manager can sympathise with Columbus’ thinking.
Peronnet spent this year working with Hoonigan Racing, preparing the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC that Ken Block used to win or finish second on every one of the six ARA rounds he finished this season.
“I have come to believe this is a mighty continent which was hitherto unknown,” said Columbus.
Peronnet’s right with him.
“We discovered a new championship, a new country, places and people,” he told DirtFish (Peronnet, not Columbus).
“It was like a dream this year. And of course, it was fantastic to work with Ken and the Hoonigan team for the first time. The feeling in the US is really nice. Back home in Europe, sometimes you have to justify a little bit about why you are going racing with the car – for the environment. But in America, we felt there was just a lot of people who all love the race and the race car. We were in these wonderful locations, with these really nice fans and amazing roads. It was a real pleasure.
“And now we want to come back and we want to bring more cars if we can. We would love the chance to work with Hoonigan Racing again, but as well as that we can see the real potential for this championship.”
ARA’s shift towards Rally2 cars can only be a good thing from what Peronnet has seen.
“We will keep the open class cars for next year,” he said, “but the Subarus will be modified and maybe we see a new car [from Subaru]. But for the Hyundai, it’s time for the i20 Coupe WRC to go to the museum. We could modify it for next year, but this would mean designing a completely new gearbox. The better is to come with the i20 N Rally2.
“Let’s see what is happening with Ken, but for sure he would be still so competitive with this [Rally2] car. I think moving all of the regulation [for ARA] to Rally2 could be a good idea. It would bring more people to the championship and make it even more professional. For sure, we would love to bring more cars and to run more drivers.”
Reflecting on last season, there is frustration at missing out on the title after Block slipped off the road on the final round. But there’s the realisation that they hit the ground running in ARA and helped KB to his best season at home ever. Together Hoonigan and 2C won four rounds and landed six podiums from eight starts.
The roads were quite different to what we see in WRC, so a lot of time we were making new differential maps and creating new solutionsFlorent Peronnet
“It was a great year,” said Peronnet. “Of course we would like to have taken the title, but Ken showed he is the fast driver. For us as a team, there was the crash on Olympus Rally, which made things a little bit complicated. We always have with us a spare car, so we could build this and be ready for the next rally.
“We never had to change a single plane ticket and we got all of the work done in time – for this I’m happy. Bringing the Hyundai [i20 Coupe WRC] to America it wasn’t always completely straightforward. The roads were quite different to what we see in WRC, so a lot of time we were making new differential maps and creating new solutions. We didn’t just take the car from the trailer and put it to the road. All the time we worked with Ken and with Derek [Dauncey, Hoonigan Racing team principal]. It was an adventure and a season we loved.
“Now we discover America, we want to go back and do more races.”