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2019 WRC: Manager Adamo Evaluates Hyundai Team at Mid-season

2019-09-06

We asked Andrea Adamo, who manages Hyundai Motorsport’s WRC team and Customer racing division, for a mid-season evaluation.

Hyundai World Rally Team sweeps the podium in the Rally Italia, the last rally of the 2019 WRC’s first half

Andrea Adamo took office as the manager of the Hyundai World Rally Team before this season. In addition to his prior responsibilities in R5(rally racecar) and TCR racecar sales at Hyundai MotorSport GmbH(HMSG), he was given full managerial duties to lead the Hyundai Team in its charge for the title in the World Rally Championship (WRC). 

Adamo decided to become a motorsport engineer at the age of 14, and joined HMSG in 2015 after working for Fiat and Honda. In a previous interview with the HMG Journal, which took place before the 2019 season began, he had shown ambitious goals for the season: “The Hyundai Team has what it takes to win it all. We will balance all the team’s strengths and win the title.”

At the WRC 2019 season, the Hyundai Team is ranked first in the manufacturers championship

In this season, the Hyundai Team boasts an impressive record. The 2019 WRC plays fourteen rallies, ten of which have been completed thus far. The Hyundai Team has scored 289 points in total, which places it at the first place in the manufacturer championship. If this positive trend continues through the rest rallies, the Hyundai team might walk away from the 2019 season with the manufacturer titles at first.

We met Adamo in the HMSG Headquarters at Alzenau, Germany, right after the first half of the season was complete back in July. We discussed his strategies for winning the remaining WRC matches, as well as his efforts in TCR racecar sales. 

We asked Manager Adamo for a 2019 season evaluation

Q. It’s been several months since you were appointed manager of the Hyundai Team. It’s a short tenure, but what are your overall impressions of your time here? 

I had a lot on my hands—from the existing TCR racecar sales to the new WRC managerial duties—so six months flew by really fast. My first thoughts in being appointed manager was to refrain from being overly ambitious. Rather than changing everything to my taste, I was hoping to play the existing strengths of our team and balance them well to contend for the title. It was a short time to figure out everything, so I had it very busy to plan meticulously for the 2019 season. I’m still busy, of course, planning for the rest of the season.

Manager Adamo with his signature amiable smile

Q. It surely is a challenge to have dual responsibilities in managing WRC and racecar sales; how do you shake off that sense of massive burden?

Well, the first half of the year was just so hectic, with events like WRC, WTCR, and trips to racing team clients who bought our racecars taking place in the weekends, so there wasn’t much time for resting and recharging. But every once in a while there would be a weekend without a scheduled race, and I would use that little window to go on a cycling hike. After all, both my body and mind need to be healthy to positively influence my colleagues and drivers. 

The Hyundai Team is coming close to winning the manufacturer title this season

Q. In the pre-season interview with us, you said that the titles were your goal. How do you rate your team’s performance?

We’re in first place at the manufacturer’s championship. There were so many variables along the way, but we managed to fight through it all and go into the remaining matches at an enviable position. But other teams are working equally hard, too. The performance gap between individual teams in WRC this year is really just marginal, so by no means can we stay complacent. We have to give 100% to every match and make sure the drivers are in their best physical and mental condition.

Veteran driver Sebastien Loeb’s experience provides valuable learning experience for his teammates

Q. Having a veteran of Sebastien Loeb’s caliber must be a positive influence. In Rally Chile, he even went up to the podium. How is his relationship with the other drivers?

He’s one of the most experienced active WRC drivers and a real, positive influence. Other drivers may possess skill, but experience matters. So Loeb would first test the rally cars and explore the tracks, and his pacenotes (a note delineating the course characteristics that serves as a map during the match) would be shared among the other drivers. One of the strengths of our team is that co-drivers who create pacenotes would very often gather together to share information in preparation. It also helps the young drivers to see the more detailed aspects of Loeb’s preparation, like how he sets the rally car’s suspension during the match, to understand how they can improve their own game. 

HMSG has been very supportive of its racecar sales division

Q. Shall we shift our topic to TCR? Last season, the performance of i30 N TCR was absolutely stunning, and that seems to have contributed to a rather harsh BOP rating. What are HMSG’s thoughts on the matter? 

BOP (Balance of Performance: an index used to level the differences between racecar models) is part of the game, so we cannot do anything to change it. But to ensure that the BRC team representing Hyundai in WTCR can have the best results, we send engineers to all rallies and test sites for technical support. Racecar setting, technical analysis, you name it. Whenever there is a specific component in need, we make every effort to supply it immediately. This support protocol is standard to all racing teams who purchase from HMSG. 

Veloster N TCR is a new star in the market, showing exceptional performance among comparable models

Q. Veloster N TCR made a new appearance this year. It is making a good showing at the US IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. How is it different from the i30 N TCR? 

Veloster N TCR was launched to be used in Korean and North American local motorsports competitions. It shares many parts with i30 N TCR, but because it has a different base model, there are some meaningful differences in driving characteristics. For example, Veloster N TCR is a bit lighter than i30 N TCR, and its low vehicle height creates an aerodynamic advantage. But because TCR competitions are designed to have all teams race in equal conditions, BOP ensures that Veloster N TCR’s advantages are counterbalanced to a degree. 

Experience and know-how from high-tech motorsport trickles down to the brand’s mass produced cars

Q. The exploits of the TCR series in WRC, WTRC, and all over the world seem to represent the motorsports world’s recognition of Hyundai’s technological prowess in building high-performance cars. Such prowess, though, would need to find its way down to the brand’s mass produced cars— is there any exchange or partnership between HMSG and Hyundai Namyang Institute or Hyundai Europe Technical Center?

HMSG is collaborating with Hyundai’s R&D department in many facets. For development in racecar technology, securing basic technical data of mass produced cars is essential, and we are working closely with Namyang Institute and Europe Technical Center in that respect. Moreover, we hold technology-sharing forums with Namyang Institute on a regular basis to make high-tech development more efficient. This way, mass-produced cars can share the same technological platform for development with racecars, simultaneously growing together.  

Gabriele Tarquini became the inaugural champion of WTCR last season. The age-defying driver continues to shine this season. 

Q. Last question. What was your most meaningful accomplishment so far in HMSG?

It would be Gabriele Tarquini becoming the WTCR’s inaugural champion last season. As for WRC, the season is not over, so I can’t be conclusive with my remarks. But one thing is for certain. Till the end of the 2019 season, the Hyundai Team will give its absolute best in its race for the titles. 

Inching closer to glory, the Hyundai team may realize its title aspirations this season

Andrea Adamo embraces new challenges, whether it is as the manager of the WRC-leading Hyundai Team, or as the administrator in charge of racecar development and sales. Raising simultaneous titles in WRC’s manufacturing and driver championships is both a long-cherished aspiration of the team and manager Adamo’s final goal. It is, of course, a wish of countless fans of the Hyundai Team as well. Will the Hyundai team be able to retain the No.1 in the manufacturer championship for the rest of the season and win the first title? Let`s watch Hyundai team`s performance in the remaining four rallies.