Hybrid boost penalty costs Tänak lead in New Zealand

Too much hybrid boost on the opening superspecial has led to five-second penalties for two Hyundais


Ott Tänak has lost the lead of Rally New Zealand due to a hybrid boost penalty, with team-mate Thierry Neuville also handed an identical penalty for the same infraction.

Their Hyundai i20 N Rally1s were found to have run 3.83kJ too much of electrical boost on the Pukekawa Auckland Domain superspecial on Thursday, registering 243.83kJ of energy release instead of the permitted 240kJ.

Every WRC stage is assigned a maximum level of permitted hybrid boost. Hyundai appears to have been caught out by an amendment to the permitted boost on the first stage, which was altered by organizers eight days before the rally began via a competitors’ bulletin.

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Pablo Marcos, Hyundai’s team manager, conceded to the rally stewards that one of his team’s engineers had made an error in not adjusting the hybrid boost levels correctly prior to the first stage.

“Mr. Marcos accepted the value measured and admitted that one of their engineers had made a mistake as he was not aware that the original maximum value of the hybrid boost for SSS1 had been changed in Bulletin No. 2, which was published on 21st September 2022,” read the stewards’ decision. “He apologised for this mistake which was due to human error.”

“The Stewards considered that, although the performance advantage was negligible, the maximum value was nevertheless exceeded.

“They therefore decided to impose the above penalty, also considering that it is the competitor’s responsibility to ensure compliance of the car at all times.”


Tänak’s penalty hands the lead to Toyota’s Elfyn Evans, who now inherits a 4.8-second lead over Tänak in second. Sébastien Ogier will be right behind the lead Hyundai heading into Saturday’s stages, only 1.7s behind in third.

There’s less impact on Neuville’s rally by comparison – he was already over half a minute ahead of team-mate Oliver Solberg but will have a little more catching to do to take fifth place away from Gus Greensmith. Neuville will start Saturday 6.8s behind the lead M-Sport car.