Hyundai Motorsport WRC Preview: Round 1 - Rallye Monte-Carlo
- Hyundai Motorsport is targeting a strong start to the 2024 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) at the season opener, Rallye Monte-Carlo
- Team veteran Thierry Neuville and the returning Ott Tänak will be behind the wheel of the improved Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid to kick-off their 2024 campaigns
- The third Hyundai Motorsport entry will be driven by Andreas Mikkelsen, with the Norwegian returning to the team after four seasons away
Hyundai Motorsport is refreshed and ready to return to the stages for its 11th season in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) at the legendary Rallye Monte-Carlo.
The treacherous mixed-conditions event will host the opening round of the WRC season for the 44th time in 2024. This year features an updated itinerary, with the stages and service park returning to the south-eastern French town of Gap, approximately 300km away from the Monegasque capital.
The mountainous region also sits 745 metres above sea level, making it France’s highest prefecture. The increased altitude is set to provide colder conditions than the most recent editions of Rallye Monte-Carlo over the past few years. This will bring snow and ice into play, adding unpredictability and treachery to the tarmac roads.
Representing Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team will be three highly experienced crews. Previous event winner Thierry Neuville will once again be joined by co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe, as the pair embark on a fourth season together. Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja, who will compete alongside the Belgians at every WRC event in 2024, will be looking to mark their return to the team with a positive result.
Hyundai Motorsport’s third and final entry is another familiar face in the form of Andreas Mikkelsen. With co-driver Torstein Eriksen, the reigning WRC2 champion will be targeting a strong debut in the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid.
All three crews took part in a pre-event test last week to prepare themselves for the conditions of the opening round of the year. This time in the car was particularly valuable for Mikkelsen, who has not competed in the top class of rallying since the hybrid regulations were introduced in 2022.
The 324.44km-long itinerary of Rallye Monte-Carlo 2024 begins with two Thursday evening stages, adding the jeopardy of sub-zero temperatures and dark skies to the already demanding roads. Friday and Saturday both consist of six gruelling tests, however it is Saturday that boasts the longest competitive distance of the event at 120.40km. Three stages on Sunday, including the rally’s Power Stage, will round off the weekend.
Hyundai Motorsport President and Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul said:
“We are really looking forward to return to the stages for the 2024 FIA World Rally Championship season. Considering the itinerary and the current weather outlook, I expect this edition of Rallye Monte-Carlo will be very different to the event we experienced last year. Our goal is to have a clean weekend and maximise the opportunity of the fresh start. It is a long season, and we have two new drivers in the car in Ott and Andreas, so we have to expect that they may need time to find their feet in the tricky conditions. It will also be everyone’s first time competing with the updated points-scoring system, which will add a new dynamic to the event. We hope to perform well, and I believe we have everything in place to do just that.”
Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (#11 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)
- Neuville begins 11th season with Hyundai Motorsport
- Pair has claimed two podiums together at Monte-Carlo
“I’m glad to be able to continue my journey with Hyundai in my 11th season with the team. They have shown me a lot of trust and I have helped them develop the car over the last two years. Our 2024 targets are to push hard for both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships, and the first step to achieving that is to perform well at Monte Carlo. It’s a challenging event due to the unpredictable weather conditions and varying surface profile, especially on the night stages. We have been competitive there in the past and know what it takes to stand on the podium. This year we are going to try for the best possible result, which we hope will be towards the front of the field.”
Crew Notes: Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (#8 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)
- Estonian crew re-join Hyundai Motorsport after a year away
- Event will be Tänak’s 150th WRC start
“Starting the season at Monte-Carlo is always a challenge. This year the event is moving back to the Gap region, so we are expecting the conditions to be mixed and tricky, with the potential of more snow and ice than we have had the past few seasons. Although we only had one day at the test, we were quite lucky with the conditions, as we were able to run on slick tyres in addition to experiencing wetter and icier roads. Overall, the feeling in the car was good and we found a nice rhythm. Our target at the rally itself is to achieve a podium finish, but of course we will push for the best result possible.”
Crew Notes: Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (#9 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)
- Norwegians claimed WRC2 victory at Rally Monte-Carlo in 2022
- Eriksen to make 50th start in WRC
“Coming back to the top class of rally from WRC2 is really exciting, and it feels really very good to return with Hyundai Motorsport. A completely new car and regulations creates a different environment for me, but it I am ready to take on the challenge. I’m very happy to be starting with Monte-Carlo this year – it’s an exciting rally with so many factors at play. Tyre choice and strategy plays a big part in success there, which means it is possible to achieve a good result even when you don’t know the car so well and haven’t found maximum pace. I want to finish the rally in the best position possible, and after a win here in WRC2 in 2022, I am determined to push until the very last stage to collect as many points as we can.”
Weekend at a Glance
- Rallye Monte-Carlo starts on Thursday evening with SS1 Thoard / Saint-Geniez (21.01km), followed by SS2 Bayons / Bréziers (25.19km), by the longest stage of the rally
- Friday’s two loops of St-Léger-les-Mélèzes / La Bâtie-Neuve (16.68km), Champcella / Saint-Clément (17.87km) and La Bréole / Selonnet (18.31km) covers a distance of 105.72km
- With the longest competitive distance of the weekend, Saturday’s six-stage itinerary boasts a total of 120.40km
- Sunday rounds up the weekend with three stages, including the weekend’s Power Stage: SS17 La Bollène-Vésubie / Col de Turini (14.80km)