Last week, Hyundai Motorsport arranged a unique rally simulation test of its new i20 N Rally1. In this exclusive DirtFish column, Andrea Adamo reflects on how it went.
There was a moment last week that I realized, actually I am like Telê Santana. Do you remember him? He was the coach of the Brazil national soccer team for the 1982 World Cup.
Santana was the guy who was in charge of players like Zico, Socrates and Falcao – maybe the best team ever. I was sitting in a corner watching the Hyundai Motorsport engineers, crews and mechanics at work during our test in Italy and I thought: ‘What can I tell these guys?’
It was the same for Santana: what would he be able to tell his team? Nothing.
I stayed in the corner and I made the coffee. OK, you know me, sometimes I say something to make a show, but really last week showed me that the less I say and the less I do in these tests the better everything is working. I trust in my people.
Every week is a busy week in Hyundai Motorsport. But last week was busy in a different way. I’m sure you have read – and watched – on DirtFish how we created a rally to give some real experience and credibility to our testing for next year’s Rally1 car.
It was a good week and I have to say a very big thank you to so many people who made it work. The idea was something completely different and, like you can imagine, this was not something we decided to do yesterday. We were working for this for a long time.
I was listening to my engineers talking about the challenge which is coming for next season, they were talking about the mapping, the hybrid and how important the road sections will be next season. For really the first time in our sport, when we get to Monte Carlo next year, the road section will be so closely watched to see who has the hybrid management right. I felt we would be only pretending to be professional if we didn’t look more closely and prepare for this. But I wasn’t sure how.
One evening, I was cooking some food and the idea came to me. I called my friends from Rally Alba. I said to them: “Do you mind to take a piece of paper and write down to make a small plan for a simulation of a rally with two stages and a small road section?”
They told me: “No problem!”
I will be honest. Before the event, I was afraid of the worstAndrea Adamo
This conversation while I was cooking turned out to be a three-day event with 488 kilometers (303 miles) of special stages and 1800 kilometers (1118 miles) of road section, complete with hybrid-only sections, a remote tire fitting zone and refuels. We had three stages per day, which needed 58 marshals, we had time controls, we even had the timing traffic lights at the stage starts.
Our friends from Rally Alba were fantastic, they worked with the local police chiefs and authorities – honestly, this was a real rally. It was what we needed.
When we had decided to make this rally, I talked to Nicoletta and Thomas [Russo and Villette, Hyundai Motorsport PR] and I said I thought it would be stupid not to make this an opportunity to show the journalists what we are doing.
All the time, we are getting the questions from the journalists: “What are you doing? When are you testing? How does it go?”
OK, we bring them, we show them and if we have a problem with the car then fanculo, it happens. This is the reality and we show them where we are.
And, of course, for the first time since I took control of this team, we bring engineers to speak to them. And we speak about the future properly, so they can see before them. The revolution had to be explained properly.
I will be honest. Before the event, I was afraid of the worst. I was thinking it might not be smooth – in my mind I was seeing the car stopping every three meters. It didn’t. It went better than I could have dreamed and hoped.
The first morning we had a stupid problem with an O-ring on the steering. If it was in a rally we would have continued, but with three days in front of us we preferred to fix and go. Then we also had to give Thierry more fuel on one day – this was because I wanted to drain the tank to see how much fuel we could use.
If we discover the tank design would not allow us to use the last 10 liters of fuel on the first day of Monte Carlo then we look stupid. We drained the tank and understood how much fuel. We refuelled the car and continued.
I was not there to show how strong we are, I was there to show in a credible and an honest way what is going on.
I think we did that. The response from the journalists was good and I think they understand now the challenge we face. It’s still a big one. When I look to the schedule I have on my wall, it tells me we stop testing on December 23. It’s a big job. We know we started behind the other ones and now we work like hell to catch that time back.
Did we do that? I don’t know. Are we close to them? How can I know?
I know sometimes I have too much emotion, now my job is to let my people be in the position to express themselves and do what they do best. We have fantastic engineers and crews and I wouldn’t want to be with any other team as we work to a very tight deadline.
Next year, the next generation is coming quicker than ever now. But after last week I am confident we will be ready.