Wednesday, March 29, 2023
HomeMotorsportsOfficial: Ott Tänak terminates contract with Hyundai in WRC early

Official: Ott Tänak terminates contract with Hyundai in WRC early

Ott Tänak and Hyundai will go their separate ways after the 2022 WRC season: The Estonian is looking for a new challenge after five wins for the South Koreans

Now it’s official: Ott Tänak will not drive for Hyundai in the 2023 World Rally Championship (WRC) season. The South Korean carmaker’s works team made the announcement in a press release on Sunday evening. According to Hyundai, Tänak had taken advantage of an option that allows him to end his contract, which was originally valid until the end of 2023, early.

“This is a personal decision that I have made after careful consideration and with respect for the team,” Tänak is quoted as saying in the release. “However, I feel that I have reached a point in my career where I need to take on a new challenge.”

Tänak left open whether he would seek this challenge within the WRC with another team or outside the World Rally Championship. Previously, the Estonian had not ruled out taking time out from the sport with his family in mind.

A rollercoaster ride in the three years with Hyundai

Tänak had switched from Toyota to Hyundai for the 2020 season as reigning world champion. His entry went spectacularly. At the 2020 Rally Monte-Carlo, Tänak retired after a terrifying accident, which he and co-driver Martin Järveoja fortunately survived uninjured.

In 2020, at his home rally in Estonia, Tänak scored his first victory for Hyundai after the long Corona break, which was followed by four more to date. The 2022 season was initially marked by technical problems with Hyundai’s new Rally1 bolide.

The power vacuum at Hyundai – the position of motorsport director, which had been vacant since the end of 2021, has still not been filled – also gnawed at Tänak’s satisfaction. The final straw may have been a team order at the Acropolis Rally in September 2022, which secured a historic one-two-three for Hyundai, but deprived Tänak of the chance to win as the runner-up.

Hyundai expresses disappointment at Tänak’s decision

“We’ve had a good partnership over the last three seasons and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved,” Tänak said, looking back on his time at Hyundai. “We have worked hard together to overcome some difficult moments and as we have shown this year, we have moved in the right direction. “

“The second half of the season has shown what we are capable of when everything works out,” Tänak said of the wins in Italy, Finland and Belgium, “but for me the time has come for something new. I thank the team for their understanding and wish them all the best.”

Deputy team principal Julien Moncet says: “Ott’s departure is a disappointment, but it is a decision we have to accept and respect. He is undoubtedly one of the best rally drivers in the world. We have been fortunate to experience this first-hand through the victories we have achieved together over three seasons. “

Hyundai wants to reposition itself

“It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. Our first year together was affected by the pandemic; this year we were dealing with a new set of hybrid regulations that were certainly challenging,” Moncet reflects on their time together. “Ott has shown real leadership by driving himself and the team to find improvements and get back on the winning track. Recently, we have been building positive momentum with our Hyundai i20 N Rally1. “

“We will miss him, but it is also an opportunity for us to regroup and rebuild. We have already given serious thought to the composition of our crews for 2023. This decision is not the one we wanted, but it opens up other possibilities as we prepare for next season. We wish Ott and Martin the very best for their future,” Moncet continued.

What Hyundai’s driver line-up will look like in the 2023 WRC season is now largely open. Only in the case of Thierry Neuville is it clear that he will continue to drive for Hyundai. The cooperation with Oliver Solberg has been terminated, and in the case of Dani Sordo it is open whether he will be allowed to continue driving a part-time programme for the team from Alzenau in Franconia. Most recently, Kris Meeke, who last drove in the WRC in 2019, was linked to Hyundai.



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