Tanak confident Hyundai can “fight hard” in 2022 WRC

Ott Tanak is confident he will be able to “fight hard” for success in the 2022 World Rally Championship despite Hyundai’s late start in developing its new Rally1 machine.

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The 2019 world champion endured a frustrating 2021 campaign claiming more stage wins than any of his rivals, but witnessed victories slip from his grasp due to reliability issues.

Tanak, who missed last year’s final round in Monza due to personal reasons, is eager to kick off the 2022 season which presents a fresh start, courtesy of the WRC’s embracing hybrid technology as part of new Rally1 regulations.

Although Hyundai was the last of the three marques to commit to the 2022 rules, Tanak has been impressed by the work undergone to create and develop the all-new i20, that is set to take on Toyota and M-Sport Ford, beginning at the Monte Carlo Rally on the 20-23 January.

The Korean brand was also the last team to unveil the final iteration of its car, which only began testing in late November. The operation is also without a permanent team principal following Andrea Adamo’s departure last month.

“Let’s say the last two years have not been too successful, so for sure it is a good chance for me to work with the guys and put a good strong car together,” Tanak, who finished fifth in the 2021 standings, told Motorsport.com.

“It is good to see at the moment, and even if we started a bit late and a being a bit behind in our development, that the people are still working hard. I’m sure we can fight hard this year.

“There is really no idea what is the gap [to the opposition] or what the situation is at the moment. It is really challenging for everyone.

“We have been focussing on our own job and as long as we are happy with what we have done, we should be proud. If we keep working and try to achieve our goals, and if we can do that, then I’m sure we are going to be strong.

“It [the car] is slowly getting there. The potential is there and it seems to be a good package, so we just need to learn and understand where the window is for this car and how it is working.”

Ott Tanak, Hyundai i20 Rally1

Ott Tanak, Hyundai i20 Rally1

Photo by: Hyundai

Hyundai alongside rivals Toyota and M-Sport face a voyage into the unknown at Monte Carlo with reliability a huge concern for all the teams as their brand new hybrid cars tackle the challenging asphalt stages for the first time.

Not only will the use of hybrid power provide a challenge, but the cars will also run with significantly less aero and reduced suspension travel, and without a centre differential, courtesy of the new rules.

Such are the unknowns surrounding the cars, Tanak believes reliability will be more important than outright performance in Monte Carlo.

“To start the year reliability will be crucial,” he added.

“I guess in the beginning we just need some good mileage experience and score points, so for sure the reliability is more a priority than the performance, but let’s see.

“The guys are doing their best and hopefully it will work out.”

Tanak will be joined by teammates Thierry Neuville and new signing Oliver Solberg for a pre-event test in France next week ahead of the season opener.

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