We’ve still not digested it. Andrea Adamo won’t be seen in the service park in next year’s World Rally Championship after deciding to leave his role as Hyundai team principal earlier this week.
Passionate, determined and always charismatic, the WRC has seen few characters quite like Adamo.
But which, of all the famous moments he has produced over the last three years, stands out the most? How will Adamo ultimately be remembered?
We asked our writers to relay their thoughts and share their favorite Adamo memories.
Ruthlessness (and signing Sébastien Loeb)
It’s hard to distil Adamo into one moment. Or even one quality. But I’m going to stick with ruthlessness. He has always made a point to back his people in public. But drivers in the Hyundai line-up were moved around like pawns on a chessboard.
Craig Breen was one of them. Adamo teased at an expanded role for Breen if he put in the grunt work with the R5 customer program they ran in partnership with MRF Tyres. But early renewals for both Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak, along with Oliver Solberg’s arrival on the scene meant the writing was on the wall.
His boldest move, though, was seizing the opportunity to sign a nine-time world champion when their employer, Peugeot, suddenly shut up shop. Sébastien Loeb to Hyundai. Unthinkable. But it happened.
It was a statement of intent. Adamo wanted the manufacturers’ crown at any cost. He was willing to go nuclear.
That partnership didn’t generate the results Adamo had hoped, perhaps. Loeb was fresh off the back of a stunning Rally Spain win when he switched to Hyundai. Yet only two podiums in as many seasons materialized.
Despite this, Adamo’s principle of rotating third drivers worked out anyway; they would undoubtedly have lost the 2020 manufacturers’ crown without the third car’s help (albeit mostly thanks to Dani Sordo).
Hyundai dropped underperforming drivers. Toyota kept theirs. It’s why the former won the 2019 teams’ title and the latter didn’t. Ruthlessness can be very effective indeed.
– Alasdair Lindsay
Kindness and an emotional victory
My most memorable Andrea Adamo moment in 150 words. Are you kidding me? Cyberspace is a big place, but there’s still not enough room to fit my most memorable moments with the future Mr Jennifer Aniston.
I’m going to be completely selfish here and go with something personal. At the end of 2019, I’d been told by my previous employer that our budget had run out and that I wouldn’t be making the trip down under for the Rally Australia. I called some of the drivers and team principals to let them know I’d be bothering them over the phone a bit more over the rally weekend.
When I called Andrea, he commiserated me and told me his phone would always be open. He ended the call with what sounded like a fairly blasé: “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.”
I thanked him and moved on.
Moments later the phone rang. It was Adamo.
“I was thinking,” he said. “There is something I can do. I will pay for you to come. We will cover all of your costs, we have to have you with us. And I don’t do this for favours. If we are shit, you say we are shit and if I’m a bastard, you say I’m a b******. But you will come.”
The unselfish answer would follow Thierry Neuville’s 2020 Monte Carlo Rally win, harborside in Monaco. The emotion was enormous for Adamo after success on an event he’d cherished for a lifetime. But when former Lancia team manager Nini Russo came to congratulate him, those emotions truly spilled over. A moment of absolute magic.
– David Evans
The way he toyed with the media
I have two very memorable Adamo moments: one of them shows how well he can work with the media, the other his often hilarious but equally annoying way of answering questions on WRC weekends as briefly as possible. I’ll go for the former.
Last year my colleague David Evans got Adamo to agree to appear on DirtFish’s ‘SPIN, The Rally Pod’ podcast, where they chatted for over an hour-and-a-half about his lengthy career in rallying and Adamo’s Italian upbringing.
I was tasked with transcribing the interview so it could be read by visitors to our website, prior to the podcast going public, and it was absolutely illuminating listening to their conservation.
It really changed my perspective of the man (now previously) in charge of Hyundai Motorsport, was utterly engrossing, and these long and detailed answers made it slightly more forgiving for when on the next WRC rally he replied with just “yes” and “no” to several questions in the media zone.
Maybe he was saving his conversational abilities for Jennifer Aniston, much to the frustration of his long-term media rivals, like DirtFish’s Colin Clark and Evans, who had more battles with the serial hugger than his drivers did on the stages.
– Ida Wood
Adamo was simply box office
I’m afraid I don’t have a specific moment that stands out throughout Andrea Adamo’s three-year spell as Hyundai’s team principal, but rather a key character trait that made him a dream for somebody like me working at DirtFish.
Adamo was box office. You just knew, whenever he decided to speak at length on a topic, an epic headline was coming that made our job incredibly easy. Never afraid to speak his mind, Adamo’s opinions were always interesting but what made them extra special was the eloquence in which he delivered them.
Whether he was comparing the i20 N Rally2 to Brad Pitt, likening Hyundai’s chances of a 2021 manufacturers’ title to his own chances of securing a date with Jennifer Aniston or his blunt, but simple, language to Dani Sordo in the fight against Elfyn Evans for Rally Portugal victory earlier this year – “More of this s*** there cannot be. This car is the f****** fastest here and the fastest car has to win.” – we all lapped it up.
I never had the pleasure of meeting Adamo or the challenge of interviewing him, and perhaps that will go down as an ultimate career regret. But love him or loathe him, Adamo certainly can’t have any regrets about the passion, fireworks and no-nonsense he brought to the WRC.
2022 won’t be the same without him.
– Luke Barry