Hyundai Motorsport Preview: Round 8 – Rally Finland
- Hyundai Motorsport is focused on delivering a positive performance at Rally Finland, the fifth consecutive gravel round on the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar
- The team claimed a double podium at the event in 2021, a feat it will be aiming to repeat this year
- Taking control of the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 in the Finnish forests will be Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe, Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja and Oliver Solberg /Elliott Edmondson.
Alzenau, GermanyJuly 29, 2022 – Hyundai Motorsport journeys to Rally Finland, round eight of the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), with its sights set on the podium positions.
The event is a favourite of crews and spectators alike, with the high-speed gravel roads boasting plenty of grip, as well as a variety of eye-catching jumps and crests. Although similar in style to the previous round – Rally Estonia – the stages in Finland are faster and set amongst stunning forest scenery. The Nordic nation is also steeped in WRC history and is one of the few countries that has been scheduled to host a WRC event every year since the championship’s inaugural season in 1973.
Although not traditionally one its strongest rallies, the Alzenau-based team performed competitively at the event in 2021, achieving a double podium finish. The strong result was led by Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja, who will be hoping to demonstrate more progress after their third place in Estonia last time out.
The duo will be joined on the demanding stages by Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe and Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson, the same two crews that competed in the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 at Rally Estonia. The Belgians were unable to join their teammates on the podium in Finland last year, however they had been showing strong pace before suffering an unusual and unfortunate issue on the second day of running. For Solberg it will be his first time competing at the event in the WRC category, although the Swede is familiar with the roads having contested Rally Finland in the WRC2 class.
The gruelling event itinerary begins on Thursday evening with the 3.48km Harju stage. The Friday schedule is far more extensive, consisting of nine stages that have a combined distance of 124.91km. Saturday’s special stage distance is even greater, with the day’s eight stages totalling 150.30km. Rally Finland then draws to a close on Sunday with a final four stages, including the 11.12km-long Ruuhimäki Power Stage.
Deputy Team Director Julien Moncet said: “Although Finland was not an event we had traditionally performed well at previously, we were able to get two crews on the podium last year and that was a great achievement for us. It is our hope that we can do the same at this year’s rally, if not do even better. Estonia was good preparation for us as it is a similar type of event. The gap between Estonia and Finland has been very short so we must manage our expectations slightly, however we will still push to the limit. All three crews have shown that they can be fast on the gravel over the course of the season so far, therefore we are confident they can produce a strong result for the team.
Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (#11 Hyundai i20 N Rally1)
- Belgians sit second in the drivers’ standings after seven rounds
- Pair hoping to claim first Rally Finland podium with Hyundai
Neuville said: “Rally Finland is probably the biggest rollercoaster of the season! The stages are mainly on wide roads that are very fast and have good grip, but it is still very challenging, and you must really have confidence in your car and your pace notes. I think Estonia was the perfect practice to go to Finland as both are quite similar, apart from Finland is slightly more difficult as the higher grip level means the corner speed is greater. As always there will be a lot of Finns to try and beat but will do our best to get a strong result at the event.
”Crew Notes: Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (#8 Hyundai i20 N Rally1)
- Estonians secured podium last time out at home event
- Duo finished second in Finland last year
Tänak said: “Finland is always special and I have a lot of respect for the rally. I’ve been there many times in the past, but every time you arrive there you still get the same ‘wow’ effect because it is a great event and the roads are definitely made for rallying. In Finland you are often going between rock faces and flying over the many jumps, so there is no margin for error. The stages are always throwing something different at you, it is certainly unique. With how fast the stages are and the number of crests you really need a car that stays on the ground and is also very precise. The set-up is challenging but we have confidence we can perform well.
”Crew Notes: Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (#2 Hyundai i20 N Rally1)
- Pair to get more valuable mileage in Hyundai i20 N Rally1
- Crew targeting strong finish in the forests
Solberg said: “Rally Finland will be an amazing rally. It is so fast and one of the coolest events on the calendar in my opinion. It will be my first Rally Finland in WRC so I am really looking forward to the experience. Our approach for Finland will be the same as always: go flat out! I feel very prepared as we have done a lot of testing there, so I feel good about taking on the challenge. The jumps are tough, but the aim is to try to take them as straight as possible to get a good landing. Overall, it is a legendary event and I am very excited to race there.
Following a first WRC2 podium of the 2022 season in the Hyundai i20 N Rally2, the Finnish crew of Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula travel to their home event full of confidence. The duo picked up five stage wins en-route to the second-place finish at Rally Estonia and will be hoping to secure plenty more in Finland.
Fabrizio Zaldivar and Marcelo Der Ohannesian also produced a solid result at what was their first rally together, claiming a top-ten position in class and finishing 20th overall. The Paraguayan/Argentinian pairing also claimed their first stage victory as a crew in Estonia. The goal for the partnership will be to keep progressing and improving their overall performance.
Suninen said: “Rally Finland is very special for me as it is my home event and where I have grown up. It is one of the fastest rallies on the calendar and not the easiest one to complete at. To beat the challenge you have to be 100% confident in the high-speed areas and nearly all corners have crests or jumps and these have to marked well on pace notes. We had good pace in Estonia so that is promising for Finland, but for sure the local drivers will be fast there and I we shall be fighting for tenths of a second over our rivals.”
Zaldivar said: “The truth is that we face Finland with great enthusiasm. Estonia was a very good preview, with fast roads, jumps and a very versatile Hyundai i20 N Rally2, which we enjoyed every kilometre in. Having won our first special in the WRC2 Junior and Open shows us that we are going in the right direction, but of course we have to continue learning from the car, the team and my teammate Teemu, whose great experience and familiarity with Finland will be of big help to us.”
Weekend at a Glance
- Rally Finland begins on Thursday evening with Harju (3.48km)
- Friday’s running consists of nine stages that total 124.91km, including two passes of Lankamaa (21.60km), the rally’s longest stage
- The schedule on Saturday is the longest of the event, boasting a combined special stage distance of 150.30km
- The Sunday itinerary is shorter with only four stages to tackle. The final test – Ruuhimäki – will be the rally’s Power Stage, offering additional points to the crews and manufacturers.