Posted Aug 20th 2014 10:00AM
How Rallying Is Improving The Breed, And Forecasting Hyundai Performance
Autoblog joined Hyundai to check out the Neste Oil Rally Finland, where thousands of kilometers of lightly traveled, rolling gravel roads have turned out decades of astonishing racing and cold-blooded drivers. Even though the World Rally Championship is well tamed from its feral Group B days, Rally Finland is still the drivers' favorite, with the fastest speeds and the biggest jumps.
It's the rookie year for the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team, run by Hyundai Motorsport out of Alzenau, Germany. The squad entered the season aiming for podiums in the second half and looking to get its three cars to the finish at every race for maximum development data. It's already outdone itself, Thierry Neuville scoring third places in Mexico – where he used a bottle of Corona to fill his radiator – and Poland.
Denis Giraudet told us that the rally's sternest challenge is not one of heart, though. Giraudet isn't part of Hyundai Motorsport, he was our guide and he's been in the sport as a co-driver for more than 30 years; he won Rally Finland with Juha Kankunnen in 1993 in a Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD. Giraudet said the race tests that particular confidence that comes from about 18 inches below the heart: "Here, you have to go all out. If there's a problem, it's usually between the steering wheel and the seat."