Hyundai WRC

Hayden Paddon keeps his job with Hyundai

2014 WRC Rally Australia

Kiwi driver Hayden Paddon will extend his WRC career with Hyundai Motorsport in 2015 driving a minimum of nine rallies. In 2014 the 27-year-old and co-driver John Kennard competed in six WRC events, with a best result of P6 in Rally Australia.

“I am very excited to continue working with Hyundai Motorsport with an expanded programme, starting with round 2 in Sweden,” Paddon said. “I learnt a lot and built some really good partnerships within the team this year and it was an obvious choice for us to develop more and chase better results in 2015.”

Paddon clearly impressed team boss Michel Nandan during his limited running this season, explaining his feedback to engineers has been very helpful.

“He had a great first WRC season with us, putting in some eye-catching performances and helping us a lot in the development of our team and car,” Nandan said of Paddon. “He gives excellent technical feedback and works very well as part of a close-knit team with the engineers and mechanics.

“He has already proven himself more than capable of rallying with the best drivers in the world and his personal development was evident as he reduced the gap to his more experienced colleagues.”

Australian driver Chris Atkinson drove for Hyundai at Rally Mexico and Rally Australia in 2014 and it’s unclear what role he will play with the team next year.

Spanish ace Dani Sordo is confirmed for at least 10 of the 13 rounds in 2015, so opportunities for Atkinson may be thin on the ground.

Citroen Ford Hyundai Volkswagen WRC

2014 Rally Australia in pictures

2014 WRC Rally Australia

In our biggest WRC gallery yet—there’s 88 photos in all—here’s your chance to relive Rally Australia. If you’re a Volkswagen fan this might be one to bookmark becuase for the first time in their WRC existence the German juggernaut claimed a clean sweep of all three podium positions.

Also taking a clean sweep were the photographers plying their trade down under. These are some of the best rally pics we’ve seen all year and we’re chuffed to be able to share them with you all.

Hyundai WRC

Chris Atkinson ready for Rally Australia challenge

2014 WRC Rally Mexico

In rallying terms it’s been a long time since Chris Atkinson was behind the wheel of the Hyundai i20 WRC, but he is very much looking forward to grabbing his opportunity at Rally Australia (11–14 September) with both hands.

“There’s been a bit of a gap between events but that hasn’t stopped me before and I’ll definitely give it a good crack,” Atkinson promised in an interview with “My aim is to drive well all weekend and be as fast as possible. I’ll be happy with that.”

Surprisingly, Atkinson doesn’t have any racing experience on the roads around Coffs Harbour where Rally Australia takes place. However, he doesn’t expect that will hinder his performance.

“It’s all new because I’ve never done the rally there.” Atkinson said. “But I should have a good idea about the terrain and fast gravel suits me. Knowing the nature of the Australian roads should play into my hands. I just need to write some good pace notes and drive to them.”

Atkinson will race alongside Hyundai’s lead driver Thierry Neuville and young Kiwi ace Hayden Paddon, who has earned himself some quality seat time in the WRC this year, driving the i20 WRC for three events in a row in Italy, Poland and Finland. In contrast Atkinson has only Rally Mexico to add to his WRC career and knows it will be key to do well against Paddon.

“Hayden’s obviously driving well and has been given a good opportunity with the team. But I’ve got more experience of the WRC. It’s going to be interesting and I’m sure he’ll be quick. I just need to pull my finger out and go as fast as I can.”


Hyundai WRC

Chris Atkinson to race in Rally Mexico

Hyundai i20 WRC

Great news for Chris Atkinson overnight as word came through he will be making his debut in the Hyundai i20 WRC at Rally Mexico in early March.

Prior to this announcemnt Chris’ only confirmed drive for 2014 was at Rally Australia in September. You’d like to think with a good showing in Mexico he could be a chanec to fill his diary a few more times in the shared #8 i20.

Atkinson’s best ever WRC finish, a second place, was registered in the 2008 Rally Mexico and he is hoping to build on that experoence.

“It has been a great pleasure to have been involved in the testing of the Hyundai i20 WRC but to have the opportunity to contest Rally Mexico with the team is fantastic,” Atkinson said. “I have had several good results in Mexico, including my best WRC finish of second place in 2008, so I have some great memories of this event and the Mexican fans.

“It will be the competitive debut of the Hyundai i20 WRC on gravel so it will be interesting to see how we can perform. I know how hard everyone has been working to prepare for this season so I hope we can repay them with a good result!”

Hyundai WRC

Hyundai Motorsport launches i20 WRC car

Hyundai i20 WRC

Hyundai Motorsport has launched its i20 WRC and with it comes a title sponsor and full driver line up for the 2014 season. Officially known as the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team the outfit will be lead by rising Belgian star and runner-up in the 2013 WRC season Thierry Neuville.

The team will run two cars over the course of 2014 and the second i20 WRC will be shared among three drivers. Finnish driver Juho Hänninen will compete in the bulk of the rallies with Spanish driver Dani Sordo stepping in for Rallye Monte Carlo, while Chris Atkinson will race in his home event at Rally Australia. More opportunities for Sordo and Atkinson to compete next year are likely, but that’s all we have confirmed for now.

You’ll notice a large N on the bonnet of the i20 and the overalls of the crew. This is a new letter used to signify “high performance technologies” used in the WRC car. It pays homage to the company’s Namyang R&D Centre and will also soon be seen on Hyundai’s road cars.

Michel Nandan, Team Principal of Hyundai Motorsport, explains much work has already been done, but the team knows its biggest challenge awaits.

“In less than one year, we have built and tested a brand new WRC-specification car, the Hyundai i20 WRC, and established a professional team and modern motorsport facility,” Nandan said. “It’s a huge accomplishment but we know that we have a lot to learn in our first season.

“Our aims for 2014 are realistic: we want to finish each rally with both cars and build up a database of information and experience so we can develop ourselves into prospective rally winners in the future. If all goes well, we will hope to be competing for occasional podiums as the year progresses.”

More detail and photos from Hyundai Motorsport are all yours after the break.

Hyundai WRC

Hyundai steps up i20 WRC test program

Hyundai i20 WRC

Hyundai Motorsport had a busy October spending 15 days testing the i20 WRC on tarmac and gravel roads in Spain and Germany. Included in the itinerary were stages used in both Rally de Espana and Rally Deutschland.

With two prototype cars now in action Hyundai is able to speed up its development process.”This month was exceptionally busy for us,” explains Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Michel Nandan. “We were out testing the i20 WRC on both surfaces for more than half of the month, with our three test drivers swapping the seat on four separate test sessions.

“We now have two latest-spec i20 WRC cars, which allows us to further intensify the development schedule by alternating between the two chassis. Overall, it was a positive month as we managed to test new parts, try different set-up solutions and cover some good mileage with the car.”

Hyundai has also lodged its paperwork to the FIA for homologation of the i20 WRC in readiness for the 2014 season.

It’s expected Belgian ace Thierry Neuville will switch from M-Sport to lead Hyundai’s charge next year. That would leave a fight between current Hyundai test drivers Juho Hänninen, Bryan Bouffier and Chris Atkinson in the chase for remaining seats.

Hyundai WRC

Hyundai i20 WRC starts to hit its straps

Hyundai i20 WRC

It’s only a week since Chris Atkinson was officially announced as a test driver for the Hyundai WRC team and already he has plenty of development miles behind him. Atkinson and fellow development drivers, Juho Hänninen and Bryan Bouffier, have been gathering dust in the i20 WRC in preparation for Hyundai’s WRC assault in 2014.

Team boss, Michel Nandan, says he is happy with the team’s progress. “We have had a very solid month of testing and learned a lot about the performance potential of the new Hyundai i20 WRC in a range of conditions,” he explained.

“We have signed three very competent development drivers in Juho, Bryan and Chris, and the balance of the last month of testing has, for me, been positive.

“We have had a lot of work to do in a short space of time, but I can sense we are working well as a unified team. We have hit every target so far and I am proud of the entire team effort. We look forward to our next phase of development with optimism.”

Oh, as a sidenote, we haven’t forgotten that Sebastien Ogier won Rally Finland on the weekend, either, an update including several photos of the spectacular air time enjoyed by the drivers should be up soon.

Hyundai WRC

Chris Atkinson joins Hyundai WRC program

Chris Atkinson

In promising news for Chris Atkinson’s on-again off-again WRC career he has been signed to Hyundai’s WRC program. At this stage it’s a test role only and he’ll be behind the wheel of an i20 WRC prototype later this week.

“It is great to be able to integrate Chris into Hyundai Motorsport testing line-up for this season and I am convinced he will bring a lot of valuable WRC experience,” Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Michel Nandan said. “Chris will support the work of our main test drivers Juho and Bryan. With the combined expertise of all three test drivers, we will be able to benefit from thorough and comprehensive input at every test session.”

Atkinson revealed he was at Hyundai’s WRC headquarter a few weeks ago and hopes his experience will be of value to the team. “It is such an exciting project,” he said. “After visiting the Hyundai Motorsport factory three weeks ago, I am simply impressed by the team’s commitment and achievements so far.

“I have a lot of experience of many different WRC cars and events, and I will utilise this knowledge to support the development of the 2014 i20 WRC car.”

Motorsports Skoda

Chris Atkinson wins 2012 APRC title

Chris Atkinson, Team MRF Skoda

When he’s not playing in the WRC big league, Chris Atkinson competes for Team MRF Skoda in the FIA’s Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. By finishing the China Rally in second place on the weekend ‘Atko’ secured enough points to claim the 2012 title.

“This is our first overall victory in this championship, and it’s a great success for all of us,” said Atkinson. “The past years have shown how difficult it is to succeed here, and it was a big challenge for us to make it this year. I’d like to thank all the guys for providing excellent support and preparing my car absolutely perfectly.”

We pass on our congratulations to Atkinson for his 2012 championship. A clear improvement from 2011 when he finished second to Alister McRae.

[Source: WRC | Pic:]


Five questions with Chris Atkinson

Chris Atkinson, 2012 WRC Rally Italia

Chris Atkinson’s current employer Motorsport Italia has published a short Q&A interview following his sixth place finish in last weekend’s Rally Italia. It’s all pretty standard fare, tyre selection, happy with the result; stuff like that.

But the last question, and Chris’ response, tease at a possible extension of their working relationship beyond next month’s season-ending Rally de Espana.

Q: What are your expectations for the upcoming rally in Spain, the final WRC event of the season?

Chris: As always, we’ll do our best. We’re looking forward to the event. It’s always an interesting one with the switch between gravel and Tarmac set-up during the event. It’ll be a shame that the season’s over already though. It’ll be my fifth and final event this year with the team and it’s been great working with them. Fingers-crossed that soon well have something new and exciting to announce for next season!

Of course, this also gives at least some hope that Prodrive may not be the only team running MINI JCW WRCs in 2013, after BMW announced they were pulling the pin on the WRC.

[Source: Motorsport Italia | Pic: Motorsport Italia]


Atkinson happy with MINI WRC debut

Chris Atkinson, WRC Team MINI Portugal, 2012 Rallye Deutschland

Following his credible fifth place in Rallye Deutschland, Chris Atkinson is looking forward to even better things.

During the first day of competition in Germany Atkinson told Autosport: “I said that, at the end of the event, I wanted to be around 0.5 seconds per kilometre off Dani [Sordo’s] pace and we’re there now, so that’s good.

“I haven’t driven on asphalt for three and a half years, so this event is really about focusing on me and my driving—we know the car is up to the job. Finishing between sixth and 10th is my target and we’re on for that right now.”

Great to see Chris managed to better his pre-race expectations, even if it may have been due the misfortune of others.

Using horse racing parlance Atko will be better for the run. “This result has given us a good base to work from so big thanks to the team who have done a fantastic job all weekend,” said Atkinson.

“Our strategy was to get through a tricky rally without making any mistakes and it paid off. We can start fighting a bit higher up now and start moving forward.”

The next event on the WRC calendar is the Wales Rally GB in mid-September.

[Source: Autosport & | Pic: Photo4]


Chris Atkinson finishes fifth in Germany

Chris Atkinson, WRC Team MINI Portugal, 2012 Rally Deutschland

A quick shout out to Australia’s Chris Atkinson and his Belgian co-driver Stephane Prévot who have finished fifth at the 2012 Rally Deutschland. It’s their first event with the WRC Team MINI Portugal and it’s also Atkinson’s best result on the German tarmac.

Rounding out a weekend of bests, fifth place is the best ever WRC finish for Team MINI Portugal as well. Not a bad way for the Atkinson/Prévot combination to start with their new employers and let’s hope there’s more to come in the remaining four races of the year.

Via Facebook ‘Atko’ shares the following message:

Yeah boiiiii! 5th overall for Rally Germany after four years since my last asphalt rally! Absolutely stoked! Thanks everyone for the support this week!!

Oh, of course, the seemingly unstoppable Sebastien Loeb won the rally. We’ll have more for you on that tomorrow.