The World Rally Champion, Hyundai Motorsport, will aim to start its seventh season as competitor on the front foot with a strong result at Rallye Monte-Carlo this weekend.
As reigning manufacturers' champion and with the current drivers' champion, Ott Tanak, as part of its versatile crew line-up, the team is confident that it has the strongest possible package to secure both titles in the 2020 World Rally Championship.
Rallye Monte-Carlo sets a demanding challenge for crews in the opening round of the season. As the stages begin to vary in altitude, changeable weather conditions and a mix of snow, ice and tarmac are brought into play; tyre choice and concentration levels are critical to success.
All three Hyundai Motorsport crews are well versed in the complexities and tribulations of Rallye Monte-Carlo. Last year Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul scored the team's best result in Monte-Carlo to date, finishing just 2,2 seconds from the winner.
Newcomers to the team, Ott Tanak and Martin Jarveoja, have achieved three consecutive podium finishes in Monte-Carlo, while seven-time Monte winners Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena were in contention for third with the Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC in 2019. As preparation all three crews tested in the Sisteron region in December, followed by an additional day's testing in mid-January.
Team principal Andrea Adamo said: "We are ready to face the new season head-on. We have made no secret of our ambitions to go further than last year and to win both the manufacturers' and drivers' championships in 2020.
"There is always room for improvement, and our focus will be on maximising the reliability and performance of the car to fight at the front at every event. Everyone has been working hard in the off-season, and the fruits of our labours will only be seen once the Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC takes to the stage in Monte-Carlo."
Crew notes - Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul:
"Rally Monte-Carlo kicks off the season and we are straight into the dark stages. It's a very tough event, and tyre choice is crucial. It's a difficult event in which to compete; there's a lot of hesitation and you need good pace notes, as well as accurate information from your weather crew," said Neuville.
"With different altitudes in the stages, high concentration is key. Conditions are constantly changing and the most dangerous thing for us is black ice. We have been competing in Gap for a few years now and we know which sections are in the shade all day and will be slippery, but there will always be some surprises waiting for us in Monte."
Crew notes - Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja:
"The start of a new year begins with probably the most demanding event of the season. To make it even more challenging, we have a new team and a new car to learn while tackling the tricky conditions. It will never be an easy job, but it is important to get a good start and to score some points," said Tanak.
"With the event held at the end of January, the conditions are normally inconsistent, and a lot depends on the altitude. In the lower conditions you can have dry tarmac, then the higher you go it starts to freeze. With the extreme conditions, its normal to find some unpredictability in this rally."
Crew notes - Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena:
"You never know what to expect at Rallye Monte-Carlo. It could be fully dry, wet or feature a lot of snow, which changes the driving conditions. It can even change between the stages and the road sections, which means tyre choice is even more important," said nine-times world rally champion Loeb.
"You need to find the right rhythm to be fast without taking major risks. This rally you need to approach with your head; it's not just flat out, it's a question of reflection. My previous experience feels like a long time ago, so the rallies feel newer to me than other drivers. We only had one day in the car before Monte-Carlo last year, so hopefully with our current knowledge of the car we will be able to get an even better result than last year."
Rallye Monte-Carlo at a glance:
The Rallye Monte-Carlo begins on Thursday with an opening ceremony in Monaco before crews tackle two night-time stages, Malijai-Puimichel (17,47 km) and Bayons-Breziers (25,49 km).
Friday's itinerary is the longest of the weekend, with two loops of three stages totalling over 120 km: Curbans-Venterol (20,02 km), Saint-Clement-Freissinieres (20,68 km) and Avancon Notre-Dame-du-Laus (20,59 km).
Saturday's action moves to the north- and south-east of the Service Park with two stages, St Leger-les-Melezes-La Batie-Neuve (16,87 km) and La Breole-Selonnet (20,73 km) run twice each.
After an evening service in Gap, crews move back to Monaco for the final four stages on Sunday: Two runs of La Bollene-Vesubie-Peira Cava (18.41km) and La Cabanette-Col de Braus (13.36km), the latter acting as the event's Power Stage.
Fans can follow live rally updates and standings on www.wrc.com.
A complete Hyundai Motorsport guide to the 2020 WRC season and Rallye Monte-Carlo - as well as high-resolution pictures of the 2020 Hyundai i20 WRC Coupé and the team's drivers and navigators - can be downloaded at the Hyundai web site on QuickPic.co.za.