The manufacturer who has surprisingly put motorsport at the center of his concerns


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When Hyundai launched its Word Rally Championship program in 2014 with the i20 WRC, it coincided with the launch of its N brand. The “N” stands for both Namyang, which is home to Hyundai’s global R&D center in South Korea. , and the Nurburgring, the legendary circuit which houses its European test center.

Another big step was taken in 2015, when Hyundai hired Albert Biermann, former head of BMW’s famous M division and responsible for the E46 M3 and E39 M5. He started at BMW in 1983 as a humble suspension test engineer, but rose through the ranks to become vice president of engineering at M Division.

With a surprisingly free map, given the size of this Korean manufacturing giant, its mandate was to make Hyundai’s N series of cars more exciting versions of its regular machines. Very soon his first product, the i30 N hot hatch, gained more than his expected sales share and he was therefore encouraged to produce more.

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC

Photo by: Toyota Racing

Gabriele Tarquini, BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR

Gabriele Tarquini, BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR

Photo by: WTCR

Since then, Hyundai has expanded its N-brand products to include the funky Veloster, i20, Kona and Elantra models. Alongside the WRC – where he has won two consecutive constructors’ championships in the past two seasons – his involvement in motorsport has centered on touring cars, primarily the FIA ​​World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) – winning titles in 2018 with Gabriele Tarquini and Norbert Michelisz in 19 using the i30 N model.

In America, another TCR program also saw huge success with two-time Indy 500 winning team Bryan Herta Autosport using the i30, Veloster and – this year – the new Elantra.

Team owner and former Indy Car winner Herta says the race in Mid-Ohio was great. We are leading the Drivers ‘, Teams and Constructors’ Championships so a lot of good things have happened this year.

# 98: Bryan Herta Autosport with Hyundai Elantra N TCR Curb-Agajanian, TCR: Ryan Norman, Parker Chase, # 33: Bryan Herta Autosport with Hyundai Elantra N TCR Curb-Agajanian, TCR: Mark Wilkins, Harry Gottsacker

# 98: Bryan Herta Autosport with Hyundai Elantra N TCR Curb-Agajanian, TCR: Ryan Norman, Parker Chase, # 33: Bryan Herta Autosport with Hyundai Elantra N TCR Curb-Agajanian, TCR: Mark Wilkins, Harry Gottsacker

Photo by: Art Fleischmann

# 98: Bryan Herta Autosport with Hyundai Elantra N TCR Curb-Agajanian, TCR: Ryan Norman, Parker Chase

# 98: Bryan Herta Autosport with Hyundai Elantra N TCR Curb-Agajanian, TCR: Ryan Norman, Parker Chase

Photo by: Art Fleischmann

But what about the future? While TCR’s global platform allows Hyundai to run multiple programs in different regions, its profile is limited to fans of touring car racing. In the meantime, the new Pure ETCR series is already allowing the brand to put its electrical products to the fore, a big part of the brand’s future, with hydrogen also being a major alternative energy source in which it is invested.

Is there any chance that Hyundai could elevate its ambitions to a larger-scale series – to the same level as its involvement in the World Rally Championship – on the circuits?

“We are obviously in discussions with Hyundai on the motorsport landscape,” explains Herta. “As you say, in the pyramid, motorsport is at the top for the N brand. For us that means bringing these fun, everyday racing cars to drive in different categories as more and more N models appear. As a racing team every year we have grown beyond what we started with and besides supporting customer cars we would also like to see growth next year. see even more from Hyundai.

Bryan Herta, Bryan Herta Autosport

Bryan Herta, Bryan Herta Autosport

Photo by: Bryan Herta Autosport

# 77: Bryan Herta Autosport with Hyundai Veloster N TCR Curb-Agajanian, TCR: Michael Lewis, Taylor Hagler

# 77: Bryan Herta Autosport with Hyundai Veloster N TCR Curb-Agajanian, TCR: Michael Lewis, Taylor Hagler

Photo by: Art Fleischmann

Hyundai may be competing on a modest rung of the IMSA ladder, but it’s also significant that it was the title sponsor of its “home” event at Laguna Seca (where it swept the podium) earlier. this month. Add to that equation that Biermann said his ultimate goal is to produce a mid-engined N car that could compete with a Porsche – which itself will enter top-level IMSA competition in 2023 – and that poses you questions.

Herta’s take is: “It’s a growing automotive company, and it faces all the big players in terms of car sales, not just on the racetrack.

“It would make sense to see Hyundai participate in other types of motorsport and we would definitely want to be a part of it. We see ourselves as Hyundai’s North American racing partner and we want to race wherever it makes sense to them.

“Racing is a center of technology development and, for example, the ETCR platform that they now have in Europe fits well into Hyundai’s electric lineup going forward. I think hybridization still allows you to run in a lot of other categories, and those opportunities are multiplying. Then I think you’ll see the EV portion increase over time as the ICE plays a smaller role, on the road to a fully electric future. It will be a gradual process.

In addition to his ETCR car, he also recently revealed a two-door sports car powered by a 690 horsepower (500 kilowatt) hydrogen powertrain (below).

Jean-Karl Vernay, Hyundai Motorsport N, Hyundai Veloster N ETCR

Jean-Karl Vernay, Hyundai Motorsport N, Hyundai Veloster N ETCR

Photo by: Pure ETCR

hyundai-studien-zum-thema-brennstoffzelle

hyundai-studien-zum-thema-brennstoffzelle

Even before the successes of the WRC and TCR titles, in 2015 Hyundai unveiled a fantastic N-brand car for the Gran Turismo video game – at the time slated for 2025 – that doesn’t appear a million miles from the emerging IMSA. and FIA World Endurance Championship LMDh designs!

It won’t be anytime soon, but how cool would it be if something like this actually happened?

Concept Hyundai N 2025 Vision Gran Turismo

Concept Hyundai N 2025 Vision Gran Turismo

Photo by: Nikolaz Godet

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