Hyundai Motorsport tackles Rally Sweden with new car livery, celebrating 10 years in WRC

Hyundai Motorsport has unveiled an all-new look for its 2024 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) campaign, which pays tribute to 10 years of N in WRC, ahead of this week’s Rally Sweden from 15 to 18 February.

Since its inception in 2012, Hyundai Motorsport has worked with Hyundai Motor Company to channel the learnings from its motorsport activities into Hyundai’s high-performance road-going cars. The new livery pays homage to this connection, with the primary focus being an N decal spanning both sides of the car.

The motif pays tribute to the Hyundai N ethos of “Never Just Drive”. The company creates high-performance vehicles that adhere to high standards of excellence, while simultaneously providing customers with cars that are fun-to-drive and practical. The livery ties in with a wider campaign from Hyundai N celebrating ten years of the brand in FIA WRC.

Following a top-step finish at the FIA WRC season opener, Rallye Monte-Carlo, Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe’s winning livery has been retired – making it a special edition design. The new N-inspired livery will debut on all three Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team entries in Sweden.

Hyundai Motorsport president and team principal Cyril Abiteboul said: “As some of our colleagues celebrate the Lunar New Year, we are also marking a fresh beginning with an all-new livery for the remainder of the FIA WRC season. The design was created to pay tribute to our close working relationship with Hyundai N and Hyundai Motor Company, and complements their celebrations of ten years in the pinnacle of rallying. Starting the 2024 season with a win at one of the most iconic events in WRC history was an incredible moment, ten years after our first-ever Rallye Monte-Carlo, and it is fitting that Thierry and Martijn’s Monte-Carlo colours are memorialised in the history books.”

Till Wartenberg, Hyundai’s vice president of N Brand and motorsport, said: “We are delighted to see the N Brand logo take centre stage in the 2024 Hyundai Motorsport WRC livery. The tie between our high-performance cars and our motorsport activities has been growing year-on-year. The new look honours this association perfectly; fans and colleagues can now associate that intricate piece of rally machinery with their road-going Hyundai car.”

  • Hyundai Motorsport aims to continue its strong start to the season on the wintery roads of Rally Sweden, the second round of the 2024 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).

Set in and around the city of Umeå, Rally Sweden is the only snow event on the calendar, boasting a number of specific challenges for the crews to tackle. The most prominent are the snowbanks that line the stages. They can both help and hinder drivers – use them correctly and it can assist turning, but hit them too hard and they will engulf the car and halt a crew’s progress. The balance of speed and precision is therefore key when navigating the stages.

To add further difficulty, the roads of Rally Sweden are some of the fastest on the WRC schedule, with the studded tyres used at the event providing high levels of grip on the icy surface. Pair this with long days and night-time stages and it creates a gruelling and unpredictable test.

Three experienced crews will be representing Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team in the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid. Two-time event winners Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja travel to Sweden following a consistent performance at Rallye Monte-Carlo to compete alongside Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe, who are looking to add to their win tally following victory at the season-opener.

Esapekka Lappi will be back behind the wheel of the car for the first time since Rally Japan, as he kicks off his part-time campaign with co-driver Janne Ferm. All three crews have taken part in a pre-event test in Finland to acclimatise to the conditions they will be facing in Sweden.

The 300,1 km-long itinerary of the event commences on Thursday with a 5,16 km night stage, before heading into Friday’s seven stages. Saturday presents the longest total stage distance of the weekend, as 125,96 km will be covered across the day’s seven stages. Three stages on Sunday close the weekend with Umeå (10,08km) acting as the Power Stage. Across the event, there are four new stages and an altered running order in comparison to 2023.

In honour of the late Craig Breen’s dominance across SS2/5 Brattby at last year’s event, the 10,76km stage has been renamed as #42 Brattby. Breen took the victory on both runs of the stages by 3,8 and 7,8 seconds respectively.

Hyundai Motorsport President and Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul said: “Rally Sweden is the only snow event on the calendar, and after the mild conditions at Rallye Monte-Carlo it is the first time we will experience this type of surface since last year. We want to continue the momentum from our victory at the first round, and we know we have the potential with Thierry and Ott based on their wins here previously. It will be Esapekka’s first event since Rally Japan last year and we are excited to see a new lease of life in him as he embarks on his part-time campaign. Sweden is special for us because of Craig’s podium here last year, so it’s really nice to see his memory honoured in the renaming of Brattby. We want the best finish possible, so to end the weekend on the top step is our ultimate aim.”

Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe

Neuville said: “We are expecting a lot of snow and very cold temperatures in Sweden. This was something that was manageable last year, but has been a bit more difficult previously. Because of this, we will need a lot of precision and reactivity from the car to be able to throw it from one corner to the other and maximise effectiveness. Snowbanks are obviously a huge risk, especially when temperatures are higher than usual. When it’s freezing, they are a feature you can rely on to help you get a better position to go faster. Clean driving, tyre management and road positions are all factors that can make it very challenging.”

Crew Notes: Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja

Tänak said: “Sweden is a really nice rally that’s mostly about pure performance. The roads are easy and flat, so it’s no real stress to the cars and this makes it easier to maximise the pace. Previously it’s been great in Umeå, and I would like to see big snowbanks and icy roads once again. Snowbanks are more of a support than a risk in Sweden. Most of the time you can use them to your advantage to push the limit, so if the snowbank takes you, you are probably too far over the limit. 

“The stages in complete darkness are always a bit of a challenge. You don’t see very much, sometimes just where the lights show. That, paired with driving on snow, means you can go sideways unexpectedly. On the other side, snow is quite a good reflector, so I would say it’s easier than driving in places like muddy Wales.”

Crew Notes: Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm

Lappi said: “Rally Sweden is an event I definitely enjoy and a great place for me to start my season. I think if the conditions are as expected, then starting towards the back is a big advantage, as the fresh snow will be ploughed away by the first cars and the grip will be higher. However, if it’s really cold, more around minus 20ºC, then you might have a lot of snow powder flying in the air, which makes visibility worse for those later in the running order. Another key feature of Rally Sweden is the difference between the first and second passes of the stages. On the first, the road is usually smooth and you can approach it normally, but on the second there can be big ruts that demand you to adapt your driving style quite a lot.”

Weekend at a glance

Rally Sweden begins on Thursday afternoon with Shakedown, followed by SS1 Umeå Sprint (5.16km) in the evening. Friday features two loops of #42 Brattby (10,76 km), Norrby (12,36 km), Floda (28,25 km) and a second loop of Umeå Sprint (5,16 km), covering a distance of 107,9 km.

With the longest competitive distance of the weekend, Saturday’s seven stages cover a total distance of 125,96 km. Sunday closes the weekend with three stages, including two loops of Västervik (25,50 km).