COFFS HARBOUR, Nov. 13, 2019 – Hyundai Motorsport has secured its maiden title in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)*, finishing the 2019 season on top of the manufacturers’ standings with a margin of 18 points over its nearest rivals.
The title was concluded in a subdued manner after the cancellation of Rally Australia, the final round of the 2019 season, due to the devastating bushfires in the New South Wales region. Hyundai Motorsport continues to send its thoughts and best wishes to all those affected by the terrible situation.
In total, Hyundai Motorsport amassed four victories during 2019 en route to the title – Tour de Corse, Rally Argentina, Rally Italia Sardegna and Rally de España – and 13 individual podiums results. It was one of the team’s most versatile performances as the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC performed consistently and competitively on all terrains.
Belgian pairing Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul scored three of those wins with Neuville finishing the year second on the drivers’ classification. Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio picked up their first victory as a Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team crew in Sardinia.
Meanwhile, Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jæger-Amland took three podiums, including playing a role in the team’s best result of the season – a 1-2 finish at Rally Argentina. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena also frequented the top-three in Chile, underscoring the strength in depth of the team’s squad this season.
The manufacturers’ title has been the result of an intense and determined team effort since the company’s origins at the end of 2012. Starting from a blank sheet of paper, Hyundai Motorsport quickly built up a professional WRC outfit and a brand new car based on the road going i20 model. After a year of exhaustive testing, the team made its debut at Rallye Monte-Carlo in 2014.
WRC’s unforgiving nature became apparent immediately when neither of the team’s entered cars could complete the opening rally. However, fortunes would improve as the season progressed. A debut podium finish in Rally México for Neuville just two events later would see the team celebrate its first trophy in style. 2014 continued to set a high benchmark with the team’s first 1-2 finish in Rallye Deutschland.
Eager to continue this momentum, 2015 proved to be a year of consolidation before a return to winning ways in 2016 – with victories in Argentina (Hayden Paddon) and Sardinia (Neuville) helping the team to second on the end-of-year classification.
Competing as a fully integrated member of the WRC community, Hyundai Motorsport was regularly among the pace setters and victory contenders. Taking four wins in 2017 and three in 2018, there was rarely a rally that took place without Hyundai crews in the mix.
From the start of 2019, under Team Director Andrea Adamo, Hyundai Motorsport’s objectives were clear: to fight for its first world title. Against fierce opposition from competitive rivals, the team dug deep to maintain – and then extend – its advantage at the top of the table before the season’s conclusion.
Head of Product Division, Executive Vice President of Hyundai Motor Group, Mr. Thomas Schemera said: “Hyundai Motorsport has truly captured the spirit of Hyundai and our N high-performance brand. The successes they have enjoyed over many seasons have been incredible to watch, and the influence on Hyundai’s road vehicles cannot be underestimated. It has been a privilege to watch the team’s determined fight for the championship – and to see them secure Hyundai’s first-ever WRC title against such tough opposition. Motorsport and high performance go hand in hand; we will now focus on transferring that winning feeling onto customers around the world and to enhance their enjoyment of driving Hyundai vehicles.”
Thierry Neuville said: “This has been a very special journey for us, and it is a pleasure to say we are now an FIA World Rally Championship winning team. It’s an amazing achievement. There have been so many highlights along the way; every victory has been important, but more than just the results, the team has grown so much over the six seasons. We have a fantastic group of dedicated, talented and professional individuals, this result is for each and every one of them.”
Dani Sordo said: “Winning the FIA World Rally Championship manufacturers’ title with Hyundai Motorsport is very important for myself and Carlos. I have been part of the team for the last six years and we have been working hard for all these years to reach this target. We have been leading the championship for most of the season and I think this is a very well deserved title for the entire team. I’ve seen the Hyundai Motorsport family growing and progressing season by season, and I’m really pleased to finally clinch our first title together!”
Craig Breen said: “I am delighted to see the team secure the manufacturers’ title, albeit in some extreme circumstances. It was very clear this year that everyone in the team was pushing really hard to try and make this dream happen. The way that the team has been so strategic, using different drivers at different events, it has allowed us to be in the position to complete the job. Thanks to the team for entrusting part of that job to us.”
The team will now use the off-season period to prepare for the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship with a revised crew line-up but even more heightened ambitions for success.
*Subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA