Hyundai Motorsport has signed new multi-year contracts with its FIA World Rally Championship drivers Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak, which will see the Belgian and Estonian remain with the team beyond 2021.
The announcement confirms the intention of the two-time manufacturers’ champion Hyundai Motorsport to stay at the forefront of the WRC in the near future by working with two of the most talented and fastest drivers in the competition.
Neuville, who is running second in this year’s drivers’ championship, has played a fundamental role in building up the Hyundai Motorsport WRC programme over the past seven years. He has helped the team in reaching many important milestones, from the first victory in Rallye Deutschland in 2014 right up to the two consecutive manufacturers’ titles in 2019 and 2020, totalling 13 rally wins since his debut with Hyundai.
The Belgian has built solid foundations being part of all eras of Hyundai Motorsport in the WRC, from the first generation of the Hyundai i20 WRC until the current Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC.
Joining Hyundai Motorsport as World Rally Champion in 2020, Tänak scored a memorable win at home in Estonia and three more podium positions as part of the team’s success in claiming its second manufacturers’ title in 2020. The Estonian scored his first win of 2021 at the Arctic Rally Finland in February with an assured performance, leading a Hyundai 1-3 finish.
Early confirmation of the contracts allows the Alzenau-based team to efficiently develop the brand-new challenger for WRC’s hybrid era. The prototype, based on the Hyundai i20 N road car, will soon enter its testing phase.
Neuville said: “It was my intention to continue the adventure in the World Rally Championship with Hyundai Motorsport and I’m happy to sign a multi-year contract with the team, which became my second family. Besides the fact that I feel really at home with them, their determination and target for victory convinced me to pursue the fantastic journey we started together more than seven years ago.
“Their approach and ambitions on the new challenges next year due to the new WRC hybrid regulation are also very promising. I love rallying and I’m not ready to stop! I’ve been dreaming about it since I was a child and thanks to Hyundai and my strong motivation, dedication and determination, I continue to give my very best.”
Tänak said: “I am really happy to sign a new contract with Hyundai Motorsport from 2022. We have shared many special moments since 2020 and worked through some more difficult times. Over the past two years I have seen the team’s commitment and their determination to succeed, and I am sure everyone will continue to push the limits.
“We are entering a new era of WRC, as we are switching to the hybrid regulations and this means everyone will start from a blank page. Hyundai Motorsport has huge knowledge and experience of hybrid and electric technologies which will play a big role when we develop the new Rally1 car. I look forward to the new WRC era, but we have still a job to do this year – making sure we send off the current generation of WRC cars in the best possible way.”
Team principal Andrea Adamo said: “We are delighted to extend our relationship with Thierry and Ott beyond 2021. Working with these two talented drivers in the future demonstrates again our continuous determination and ambition to succeed in the World Rally Championship, and reaffirms Hyundai’s strong commitment to the series as it enters its new hybrid era in 2022.
“Both have proven to be exceptional ambassadors for the brand and the team, and I would like to thank Thierry for his loyalty to Hyundai Motorsport since 2014 and Ott for trusting us and our work – we are very pleased to collaborate with them now and in the years to come. We will soon begin the crucial test phase our new 2022 Rally1 challenger, so together with Thierry and Ott we can execute a smooth testing plan. We should also not forget that we still have a job to do this year – focussing on our goals for 2021 as well as thinking ahead to 2022 and beyond.”