Refreshed Hyundai Motorsport team ready to tackle Rallye Monte-Carlo

Hyundai Motorsport is refreshed and ready to return to the stages for its 11th season in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) at the legendary Rallye Monte-Carlo.

The treacherous mixed-conditions event, running from Thursday 25 January to Sunday 28 January 2024, will host the opening round of the WRC season for the 44th time next week. This year features an updated itinerary, with the stages and service park returning to the south-eastern French town of Gap, approximately 300 km from the Monegasque capital.

The mountainous region also sits 745 m above sea level, making it France’s highest prefecture. The increased altitude is set to provide colder conditions than the most recent editions of Rallye Monte-Carlo over the past few years. This will bring snow and ice into play, adding unpredictability and treachery to the tarmac roads.

Representing Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team will be three highly experienced crews. Previous event winner Thierry Neuville will once again be joined by co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe, as they embark on a fourth season together. Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja, who will compete alongside the Belgians at every WRC event in 2024, will be looking to mark their return to the team with a positive result.

Hyundai Motorsport’s third and final entry is another familiar face in the form of Andreas Mikkelsen. With co-driver Torstein Eriksen, the reigning WRC2 champion will be targeting a strong debut in the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid. All three crews took part in a pre-event test last week to prepare themselves for the conditions of the opening round of the year. This time in the car was particularly valuable for Mikkelsen, who has not competed in the top class of rallying since the hybrid regulations were introduced in 2022.

The 324,44 km-long itinerary of Rallye Monte-Carlo 2024 begins with two Thursday evening stages, adding the jeopardy of sub-zero temperatures and dark skies to the already demanding roads. Friday and Saturday both consist of six gruelling tests, however it is Saturday that boasts the long­est competitive distance of the event at 120,40km. Three stages on Sunday, including the rally’s Power Stage, will round off the weekend.

Hyundai Motorsport president and team principal Cyril Abiteboul said: “We are really looking forward to return to the stages for the 2024 FIA World Rally Championship season. Considering the itinerary and the weather outlook, I expect this edition of Rallye Monte-Carlo will be very different to the event we experienced last year. Our goal is to have a clean weekend and maximise the opportunity of the fresh start. It is a long season, and we have two new drivers in the car in Ott and Andreas, so we have to expect that they may need time to find their feet in the tricky conditions. It will also be everyone’s first time competing with the updated points-scoring system, which will add a new dynamic to the event. We hope to perform well, and I believe we have everything in place to do just that.”

Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe

Neuville said: “I’m glad to be able to continue my journey with Hyundai in my 11th season with the team. They have shown me a lot of trust and I have helped them develop the car over the last two years. Our 2024 targets are to push hard for both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships, and the first step to achieving that is to perform well at Monte Carlo. It’s a challenging event due to the unpredictable weather and varying surface profile, especially on the night stages. We have been competitive there in the past and know what it takes to stand on the podium. This year we are going to try for the best possible result, which we hope will be towards the front of the field.”

Crew Notes: Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja 

Tänak said: “Starting the season at Monte-Carlo is always a challenge. This year the event is moving back to the Gap region, so we are expecting the conditions to be mixed and tricky, with the poten­tial of more snow and ice than the past few seasons. Although we only had one day at the test, we were lucky with the conditions, as we could run on slick tyres in addition to experiencing wetter and icier roads. Overall, the feeling in the car was good and we found a nice rhythm.”

Crew Notes: Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen

Mikkelsen said: “Coming back to the top class of rally from WRC2 is really exciting, and it feels really very good to return with Hyundai Motorsport. A completely new car and regulations creates a different environment for me, but it I am ready to take on the challenge. I’m very happy to be starting with Monte-Carlo this year – it’s an exciting rally with so many factors at play. Tyre choice and strategy plays a big part in success there, which means it is possible to achieve a good result even when you don’t know the car so well and haven’t found maximum pace.”