The 2019 and 2020 WRC manufacturers’ champions left Monte Carlo facing a myriad of problems to fix on its all-new i20 N Rally1 machine after a nightmare start to the new hybrid era.
Thierry Neuville was the only Hyundai to reach the finish in a lowly sixth after recovering from broken front right suspension and handling issues. Teammate Ott Tanak retired after sliding into a rock face, having opted to run slicks tyres on snow, while Oliver Solberg was withdrawn on the final day due to illness triggered by inhaling fumes that had been filling his cockpit for two days.
Hyundai deputy team director Julien Moncet told Motorsport.com after Monte Carlo that his team would “double its efforts” to close the gap to its Toyota and M-Sport-Ford rivals and said prior to this weekend’s second round of the season on the Swedish snow that it has worked tirelessly to address a “long list” of problems.
Although Moncet is wary there is still work to be done to improve the i20 N, the team’s preparations have been boosted by a positive trouble-free test in Finland earlier this month that exceeded expectations.
Following a detailed debrief at the team’s Alzenau base, Moncet is confident significant progress has been made and believes Hyundai should be in a position to contend for a podium.
“We mostly focused on the reliability issues – this will definitely help us to go one step forward in Rally Sweden,” Moncet told Motorsport.com.
“We really focussed on set-up at the test and we haven’t had too many reliability issues.
“We have had to push a lot to find solutions. I think for us it has exceeded our expectation.
“We had some time between Monte Carlo and Sweden, but not everything could be changed because of items related to homologation or things that need time and more evaluation. I think we did what we could to prepare in the best possible way for Sweden.
“The only resting day we had was the travelling day back to Alzenau [from Monte Carlo]. As soon as we were back, all the guys based at the factory were already working flat out.
“We had a series of meetings to work on our main issues that can be linked to the car, organisation, communication or whatever. We tried to tackle all the small things.
“The first week was really intense in terms of meetings to try to list and prioritise all of the issues, because obviously the list was quite long.
“Even with the best will in the world you cannot do everything before Sweden, so we had to prioritise and I think we did it pretty well. There are no dramatic changes, it is mostly the same car but we have tried to sort out all the small issues.
“The target I always used to say is to win, and I will be happy if we win, but the first target will be to bring the three cars to the finish line and I reasonably think we can target a podium.
“I think this is achievable and the car seems to perform well in this set-up window.”
Among the issues the team believes it has resolved concerns the fumes that entered Solberg’s car in Monte Carlo and left the Swede feeling dizzy – contributing to an off.
“I hope so, otherwise I will not be happy definitely,” Moncet added when asked if the issue had been fixed.
“This was one of the main issues we worked on. We did some analysis to understand where it was coming from and how to solve it. I think we have done our homework and it should be solved.”
Rally Sweden begins with the first competitive stage on Friday morning.