Kenya: Hyundai Names WRC Safari Rally Team With New Car in the Works

Nairobi — In a clear sign that they were leaving nothing to Chance, South Korean multinational automotive manufacturer, Hyundai have announced their list of drivers for the WRC Safari Rally slated to run in Kenya from June 24-27.

The team will comprise of Ott Tanak, Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo who will take on drivers from other automotive manufacturers like Toyota, Ford and Skoda Fabia.

34-year-old Estonian driver Tanak who will be co-driven by Martin Järveoja. In the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Tänak and Järveoja finished third overall in the driver's standings, behind rivals Thierry Neuville and Sebastien Ogier.

Tänak achieved his maiden drivers' world title in the 2019 World Rally Championship, making him the first Estonian to win the driver's championship.

Meanwhile, 33-year-old Thierry Jean Neuville is a Belgian rally driver currently navigated by Martijn Wydaeghe.

In his colorful career, he has finished as runner-up in the drivers' championship five times (2013, 2016-2019). He helped Hyundai win their first manufacturers' title in 2019, as well as repeating the feat in 2020.

Daniel "Dani" Sordo Castillo is a 38-year-old Spanish rally driver and he achieved his first WRC victory at the 2013 Rallye Deutschland.

Hyundai rally team Principal Andrea Adamo told DirtFish that they could be testing the Hyundai Rally 1 Challenger earlier than expected.

"Maybe we can gain some days. I would love to have it running this month, I would say the chances for this are 50-50," Adamo said.

Adamo did not want to be drawn in on when the team's 2022 engine would run for the first time, adding: "The other teams they are telling you about the evolutions, me? I don't talk about technical things. When is the homologation date? July 1, then July 1 it is."

Most teams are looking at running hybrid engines and a spotcheck by sleuths at Dirtfish, most manufactures are currently driving around without the hybrid engines with some adding an additional 100kgs of ballast to make up for the difference.

The running of the hybrid motors has the batteries fitted - in the same way Toyota ran its Yaris WRC in pure Internal Combustion Engine mode with ballast to make up the expected 100 kilos for the additional parts.

M-Sport's 2022 mule has been running the longest, completing mileage in the UK and a week-long test in Spain. Toyota packed in a significant amount of gravel testing in the south of France last month.

The WRC Safari Rally will be a new experience for many of the new crop of driver and many manufactures are not taking chances.

When asked about the future of the team; Hyundai team principle said "The longer you have people working together the better they can gel. This is what we are finding."

Adamo added that retaining Tänak and Neuville was the number one choice for Hyundai Motorsport, with Adamo not even contacting any other driver in the service park.

He said this after he quickly moved to bag and retain Tanak and Neuville for the 2022 calendar year.

In a conversation with Dirtfish, he went on to say "When I looked at the rest of this year, it's going to be so busy and I didn't want to be thinking and stressing about my drivers."

"We have rallies, we have testing and more testing, it's going to be a lot of heat, discussing contracts would be a waste of this time when we had the chance to do it early. So, to have these things done is very good.

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