We’re only two rounds into the 2022 World Rally Championship season and Hyundai’s Ott Tänak is already 41 points off the championship lead.
That’s not how this was supposed to go. A new set of regulations should have been an opportunity for the 2019 world champion to step up and make a proper title bid for the first time since his Hyundai switch.
But a crash on the Monte Carlo Rally and then a hybrid unit failure in Sweden has consigned him to a measly five points, all picked up on the latter event’s powerstage.
Instead it’s Thierry Neuville leading the line for Hyundai – his second place in Sweden putting him second in the title race, 14 points behind Kalle Rovanperä.
Hyundai expected to have two drivers in the title fight. And that will still happen if the i20 N Rally1 is up to the task – at least in the opinion of deputy team director Julien Moncet.
“The situation for Ott is a bit more tricky than Thierry,” Moncet told DirtFish. “Thierry is in a good position if you look at the current classification. And the races to follow, I think this is not too bad.
“Ott is in a different situation but don’t forget that as well he will have plenty of races where he can show a good performance, like of course Estonia, Finland. And I expect him to be great in the next rallies as well.
“Yes, the situation is not as expected, definitely it’s bad, but he’s fully motivated, he has the speed. It’s just up to us to give him a reliable and [well] performing car and then I think he will do the rest.
“There are still 11 races to go, there are plenty of points to get.”
Plenty indeed. Forty-six points have been scored by the championship leader thus far – but there’s 330 still on the table.
But to start scoring more of them, the i20 N Rally1 needs to be up to scratch. However Hyundai has been very busy in Alzenau working to close the gap to its rivals during the long gap between Sweden and next week’s Croatia Rally.