Tanak confirms Hyundai WRC return
By Jason Craig
Thursday 5th October, 2023 - 3:48am
Ott Tanak says the “clear vision” shown by Hyundai Motorsport over the last 10 months is the reason why he has decided to re-join them in the FIA World Rally Championship next season.
The Estonian returns to the squad for 2024 with co-driving team-mate Martin Jarveoja where they will be reunited with Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe.
Who will occupy the seat of the third i20 N Rally1 car has yet to be confirmed, although outings could be divided between current points scorers Esapekka Lappi and Teemu Suninen.
Tanak made the switch to M-Sport Ford last December for this season but a spate of setbacks with the Puma Rally1’s reliability effectively dashed his hopes of adding a second World title to the one he clinched in 2019.
There have been moments to celebrate, however, with the most recent coming on last weekend’s Rally Chile which he won by 42.1 seconds from Neuville.
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Since January, Hyundai Motorsport has appointed ex-Renault Formula 1 boss Cyril Abiteboul to the position of team principal, and in May recruited François-Xavier Demaison to the role of technical director.
“I am excited to re-join Hyundai Motorsport from the 2024 WRC season,” said Tanak, who scored five wins with the Alzenau-based squad when he represented them across a three-year period from 2020.
“Since our paths parted exactly one year ago, the team has been working very hard on the new technical structure. Hyundai Motorsport has a clear vision and target for the near future, and it is something that convinced me to join our forces again.
“I am also looking forward to work with Cyril Abiteboul and François-Xavier Demaison, as their experience and knowledge in motorsport is definitely a big advantage for the whole team.
“Our goal in this new chapter will be nothing less than to win all the three titles, and with the new structure of the team, we have all the tools needed to achieve it. Game on,” added Tanak.
In announcing the re-signing of Tanak, Hyundai Motorsport says this shows its clear intention to compete at the forefront by fielding a proven title-winning line-up.
Despite being at odds with one another during the 2022 campaign and occasionally getting embroiled in coded exchanges, Abiteboul says he does not perceive any problems between Tanak and Neuville.
“Hyundai Motorsport exists to ultimately fight for rally wins and championship titles. We want to be seen as a credible contender with the tools to do the job; that means the car, the organisation, and the driving talent,” said the Frenchman.
“In exploring our options for 2024, I opened a discussion with Ott, who was excited by the renewed ambitions and structure that we are putting in place. We are pleased that he is ready to resume the unfinished business that he has with our team.
“I am confident that, in the right environment, Thierry and Ott can bring out the best in each other. With this pair of winning crews secured, we can take some time to strategically consider our full line-up for next season.”