New season is almost upon us. By almost I mean we still need to deal with the usual shopping holidays of Christmas and then get obliterated in hopes of New Year and its many ambitious resolutions. Once that is done, however, we’re on the home stretch, getting closer and closer to 2015 Monte Carlo Rallye, which, as you surely must know by now, marks the beginning of a new season. Short-ish break between Wales Rally GB and Monte Carlo is used for testing and preparation by teams and drivers – time is running short and every day must be carefully planned and executed. Hyundai Motorsport had a great first proper year of WRC rallying in 2014, even though they’ll say it was a test and development year. Stage wins and a victory in Germany is what Hyundai managed to achieve in 2014, but their successes go much deeper than that. The car has improved over the course of the year, and team also had a chance to test several drivers, looking for the right combination for 2015. Alzenau based squad is, undoubtedly, looking forward to 2015, with some new goals and ambitions. We are hoping for an even stronger team with more competitive pace and reliability. Team will use upgraded and updated 2014 car at the beginning of 2015 and then introduce a brand new car later on this year. This new car is based on new gen i20 and is being built from scratch, with 2014 experiences and knowledge put to full use by team’s engineers.
As for drivers, we know about Thierry Neuville (who will do all 2015 rounds) and Dani Sordo (scheduled to take part in most of 2015 events), but some spots are still open and being chased by several drivers. Team just finished a four day test in France, sampling new tech and setups for Monte Carlo tarmac, Thierry and Dani on board. A week from now Hyundai will move on to Sweden to do some snow testing and then it’s time for a short holiday break before final prep sessions ahead of 2015 Monte.
Here is team’s official press release, covering the recent tarmac tests in France. Nice video is also here, just read through the PR thingy and you’ll reach it.
Hyundai Motorsport kicks off 2015 preparations with Monte Carlo and Sweden tests
The Hyundai Shell World Rally Team has begun preparations for its second season in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with a four day test in the region of Ardèche this week.
The team’s appointed rally drivers for 2015, Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo, have both put the Hyundai i20 WRC through its paces in anticipation of the opening round of next season, which will take place 22-25 January – just seven weeks from now.
The team was greeted with a variety of weather conditions this week as 2014 WRC rally winner Neuville carried out two days of testing on Monday and Tuesday before handing over to his team-mate Sordo for Wednesday and Thursday’s running.
The Hyundai i20 WRC that will start the 2015 season will be a substantially developed iteration of the car that started Monte Carlo earlier this year so the team has spent the past four days understanding how the latest specification car handles on the Monte Carlo Rally roads.
Thierry Neuville said: “We’ve spent a productive two days in the car this week, keeping us busy as we prepare for next season. I’ve had a good feeling from the car and we have been moving forward, step by step and getting quicker. It’s important for us to start as early as we can for the first rallies of 2015. We will now continue with our winter programme so we can head into Christmas and New Year in the best shape.”
Dani Sordo said: “The 2014 season might be over but the work doesn’t stop as we carry out our 2015 preparation. Thierry and I have both had two days in the Hyundai i20 WRC in Ardèche this week and it has been good to keep driving. December is a busy month but we need to do all we can to prepare for the next season.”
Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “The purpose of this week’s test on asphalt and very soon on snow is to understand how the latest specification Hyundai i20 WRC handles on these conditions. Although we have a full year of experience under our belts since we started our first event, we have to keep on working to prepare for the first rallies of the 2015 calendar – the first of which takes place next month. Our 2015 drivers Thierry and Dani both drove two days each this week and will also carry out a four day test in Sweden mid-December. We are continuing to evolve the Hyundai i20 WRC so these tests allow us to get final pieces of information for us to fine tune the cars for the first rounds of the new season.”
The team will now carry out a similar preparatory test in Sweden mid-December with Neuville and Sordo again sharing the Hyundai i20 WRC for two days each. Hyundai Shell World Rally Team will then head into the festive break with up-to-date information from the car which will prove useful for the opening two rounds of its second season in the World Rally Championship.
The test team will go back to action early January during a final pre-event test to hone its set-up shortly before Rallye Monte Carlo.