Hyundai victorious in Finland? Before the weekend you’d have laughed at the suggestion. But that is the reality.
Finland should have been prime Toyota territory, but Ott Tänak completely ripped up the form book, driving to a fine victory – one that not even his Hyundai team saw coming before the event got underway.
“I was expecting at best one podium. That was really what I was thinking,” Hyundai deputy team principal Julien Moncet said to DirtFish. “And even then I thought it would be difficult.
“So to be here fighting for the win all weekend has been incredible for us and I think it has helped a lot the mood in the team because we were really not confident about the car.
“We know we have a good top speed, we have a good engine, but we know we are struggling a bit with the car’s handling. So we were not sure.
“And after Estonia, we thought it would be no way here for us in Finland, but yeah, in the end here we are.
He added: “First time we win in Finland actually, so we are in WRC since 2014 and we have never won in Finland, so it’s very encouraging for the whole team.”
“It’s been a perfect weekend for us.”
Like his boss, Tänak was equally surprised to find himself so competitive when the rally weekend got underway.
On his home event in Estonia, despite his best efforts early on he found himself significantly off the pace. And although the gravel surface in Finland is different, the high speed nature of the stages isn’t.
“Estonia in the end we were two minutes behind so in the fast rally two minutes it’s like another place,” Tänak said.
“We were not looking to have a performance [in Finland] and like we saw on shakedown as well I was not really expecting anything great from here, but without expecting anything in the end this came out so quite happy with that.”
Naturally, Hyundai made some changes to try and counteract the issues it had faced in Estonia, and in Finland the i20 N definitely looked a better car in the hands of Tänak.
He was able to attack the corners with more aggression than he had in Estonia, and it worked to his advantage.
But while the changes did make a difference to the car’s handling, Tänak also explained that he had to alter his driving style to get the most out of it.
“We were able to work a bit on suspension and geometry, and the transmission actually was linked from Estonia, and the engine. Everything is the same so nothing much we could’ve done.
“OK definitely you always learn something from the previous rally and in Estonia we saw the most weakest points so we tried to improve those.
“Like I said I was never really fully confident. I was never driving like I naturally would like to drive but the way we were driving, it was bringing us some times.”
But for Moncet, one of Hyundai’s biggest wins wasn’t the actual rally victory at all. It was something else entirely.
“Well what is important first thing is it’s two races we have no reliability issues.
“This is what really stopped us the beginning of the season, so now we can really focus on performance and this is really important.”