It’s been a tough old slog for Hyundai. As the last of the three current teams to get the green light from its corporate paymasters to embark on building a new Rally1 car, it’s been playing catch-up to M-Sport and Toyota since last year.
A test car was built and shown off to the world’s media in plain view on a rally simulation event last fall. Except that car was never going to compete. It was destined for the trash, replaced by a scratch design that didn’t turn a wheel in anger until November. Then the team principal left.
But Hyundai did it. It got three i20 N Rally1s to the start ramp in Monte Carlo. Just.
“It has been a very difficult event. How to start?” deputy team director Julien Moncet told DirtFish.
“We had some positives because we managed to bring three cars here, and this was not guaranteed a few days before. This is the first achievement.”
Friday’s running on the Monte Carlo Rally showed some promise for Hyundai – Neuville was third fastest on multiple occasions – and then a stage win was later captured on Sunday morning.
But that aside, a litany of issues befell all three i20s.
“We showed some good performance when the car was running trouble-free,” added Moncet.
“We are not far away, the car is quite competitive, so this is really encouraging. These other things I would like to keep in mind to stay as positive as possible.
“Of course we had a lot of issues. We are never pleased with these kind of issues but I was expecting to have some because it’s a new regulation, new cars, we’re already quite late.
“So I’m not surprised but I’m not pleased. We always hope for better days.”
When asked what areas of the car Hyundai would be working to improve ahead of next month’s Rally Sweden, Moncet replied: “Everything.
“If anything we need to focus on reliability. We had quite a few issues that affected our performance. When the car is running problem-free it seems to be OK. But definitely, first we have to work on the reliability.”
Summing up the first round of 2022 for Hyundai makes for difficult reading.
Neuville led the line with sixth place, several minutes off the podium places after nursing a broken damper for all-but one of Saturday’s stages. Ott Tänak hit a rockface and retired with damage to his i20’s cooling system. And Oliver Solberg had to park up three stages before the finish after a long-running issue with fumes polluting the cockpit of his car, which made him feel dizzy and his eyes inflamed.
Moncet though was more succinct when asked to review Hyundai’s first outing of 2022.
“I’m looking forward to Sweden.”