Technically, I am pretty sure they’ll be right there with the i20 WRC, competitive very early on, but what about the drivers. I did not want to push this little “debate” into the Juho Hanninen article, so here are some brief thoughts about their drivers programme.
We all know Juho Hanninen has a limited WRC experience in a WRC car, but on the other hand, he is one of the most experienced drivers out there, with numerous starts in IRC, Super 2000 WRC and European Rally Championship. As one of the suppoesedly two test drivers, he brings speed and knowledge to the team, and it’s pretty obvious why Hyundai decided to hire Juho.
Alzenau based team promised to reveal the identity of their second test driver soon, but until they do, I am more curious about something else. When Volkswagen Motorsport started their WRC campaign, they hired Sebastien Ogier right away, and had him compete in WRC rounds, driving a Super 2000 car, but more importantly, keeping in touch with the events and building up to date pacenotes.
Hyundai is not contesting this year’s WRC, and to be able to fight for the very top in 2014, they will need to have a top package in their hands. Meaning, Hyundai will, most likely, sign one (or more) of the currently active WRC driver(s). It is unknown what exactly is Citroën’s plan for 2014, and what will happen to their drivers. At the same time, there are plenty of talents in Qatar M-Sport WRT camp too. Also, let’s not forget the support classes in WRC.
Basically, what I think Hyundai will do is hire very experienced test drivers this year, and for 2014 they’ll bring at least one driver who is currently competing in WRC at top level. Granted, newcomers will not have the months of seat time in the new i20 WRC, but that’s what test drivers are for.
Now, imagine Robert Kubica as one of Hyundai’s WRC drivers for 2014? Yes, I know, his hand, and his Formula 1 ambitions, but it does sound exciting!
Hyundai got us all curious, well played!