Hyundai crashes the Toyota/WRC home party with two wins

Hyundai crashes the Toyota/WRC home party with two wins


Toyota wanted to celebrate its championship at the home game of the World Cup in Japan with a good performance at the end of the season, nothing happened, the winner beat the rival Hyundai.

It was the 50th anniversary season of the World Rally Championship, the first year of the championship with new hybrid cars. Even before the final, Toyota grabbed all the titles (manufacturer, driver and co-driver classification). In terms of victory, however, the final went to rival Hyundai from Alzenau in Lower Franconia with the fifth win of the season for the South Koreans and Thierry Neuville’s second straight goal of the year ahead of Ott Tänak. Alzenauer crashed the Yaris’ home party at Toyota City with the double win, which was certainly not on the final agenda of Toyota team boss Jari-Matti Latvala.

At least Hyundai and Thierry Neuville, with the help of second Ott Tänak, were able to reap the final laurels. Tänak joined Alzenau’s team as world champion in 2020 and left the South Koreans as vice-champion by an initially unknown goal. This meant that Hyundai had an amicable end to a more mixed season in its first Asian World Championship, where the team started with some early problems and found its performance in the second half of the season.

After 16 of the 19 scheduled stages, Neuville in the Hyundai i20 Rally1 was the winner in Toyota City, exactly 1:11.1 minutes ahead of Tänak. Local Takamoto Katsuta salvaged some honors with third place in the best Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 (+2:11.3). It is not yet known who will replace Tänak in 2023. In addition to Andreas Mikkelsen, Esapekka Lappi is also being discussed. Also, fired interim driver Oliver Solberg has to be replaced in the third i20 with Dani Sordo, and Teemu Suninen?

Hyundai celebrated not only their fifth win of the season but also their 25th overall, Neuville’s second win of 2022 and their 17th straight world championship win.

Great joy and palpable calm in Neuville: “It feels good! It wasn’t an easy weekend or an easy year, but to end up with a win and to show good speed all weekend is great. Our weather experts have done a great job again and thanks to everyone. “

Outgoing Tänak said of his eighth podium visit in 2022: “It’s good to finish on the podium. We still won a couple of rallies and had a podium. Let’s see what the future brings. As I said before, I don’t have a contract for next year at the moment . I’ll go home and we’ll see what happens in the next few weeks.”

For Katsuta, the third place was the expected result in the first home game of the World Cup: “A big thank you to the team and all the supporters on the podium and also on the street. Unfortunately, my teammates had a lot of problems, but I can’t find the right words . The weather was very difficult, but we are here.”

Side note: Even with Japan’s return to the World Championship, Toyota has not won at home since Japan’s World Championship began in 2005.

Toyota and tires

The wheels were undoing the Toyota. After the tires of Sébastien Ogier in the second stage and Kalle Rovanperä in the eighth decision on Saturday, Elfyn Evans, who had led from the fifth to the eleventh stage, was also beaten in the fourth to last decision on Sunday. Not only did he lose more than 90 seconds, he dropped from second to fifth (+4:05.1), 1:41.5 behind Ogier, effectively ending Toyota’s hopes of winning at home for good. Rovanperä ended his championship season in twelfth place after it rained on the Stadium of Power (+ 10:04.8) after a tire accident.

The driver of the season was without question Kalle Rovanperä, who won six times in 2022 and was celebrated early in the third-to-last round in New Zealand just one day after his 22nd birthday as the youngest world champion of all time. His hard hit in the eighth decider dropped him from third to eleventh. But in the end it was the twelfth place for the new champion. He explained: “We are here and that is the main thing. Nice to finish the season – I’ve been waiting for this for a long time! It takes a lot of energy to fight for the title and I’m ready for a vacation now!”

The problem child was again the M-Sport Ford. After the rocket start of newcomer Sébastien Loeb in Ford Puma Rally1 at the season opener in Monte Carlo, bad reports of failures and accidents of other team members gathered, above all Adrien Fourmaux. , who suspends three meetings as a result he had to, or the real leader Craig Breen, who himself failed to meet his expectations and compete with Fourmaux in defeat, as is the case on Friday in Japan. And Gus Greensmith is certainly not a man who can uproot trees. The M-Sport Ford is and remains underpowered at times and has a much smaller budget. The best of the two Puma pilots was again Greensmith with sixth place (+ 4:07.4).

Lindholm WRC2 Champion

With his third place in WRC2, Emil Lindholm in the Skoda Fabia Rally2 also managed to take the WRC2 title after the junior championship, seven points ahead of deposed defending champion and teammate Andreas Mikkelsen, who had already used up his seven race total. Luxembourg’s Grégoire Munster celebrated his first WRC2 win in a Hyundai i20 Rally2 21.6 seconds ahead of brand-mate Teemu Suninen, who is sold as the third official i20 part-timer alongside Dani Sordo. Hyundai also celebrated two wins in WRC2.

The new classification for over-50 drivers saw 66-year-old Italian Marco Miele in the Skoda Fabia Rallye take his third victory, four points ahead of long-time leader Armin Kremer, who won five times but also brought two zero results. .

A personal highlight was provided by former Mercedes Formula 1 driver Heikki Kovalainen, who finished tenth overall (+ 8:59.8) in his Skoda Fabia Rally2 in his World Championship debut in his adopted country of Japan.

Japan was not a spectacular final. After the two-year delay caused by the pandemic, they really wanted a little more, more participants, although the number of 31 teams was very manageable. The organization certainly doesn’t take credit for the fact that three of the 19 scheduled tarmac stages were cancelled, and certainly not that the final stage on Saturday was started 45 minutes late by the Japanese, who were worried about being too late. Japan’s bullet trains were delayed by a total of 38 seconds (!!!) in 2021. There is no question that Japan deserves a World Championship run like no other country, after Mitsubishi, Subaru and, to a lesser extent, Suzuki were also represented in Prime Minister class with Toyota.

Final grade after 16 graded exams

space

Team/Nat/Car

time

1

Neuville/Wydaeghe (B), Hyundai

2:43:52.3

2

Tanak/Järveoja (EE), Hyundai

+1:11.1

3

Katsuta/Johnston (J/IRL), Toyota

+ 2:11,3

4

Ogier/Landais (F), Toyota

+2:23.6

5

Evans/Martin (GB), Toyota

+ 4:05.1

6

Greensmith/Andersson (GB/S), Ford

+ 4:07.4

7

Munster/Louka (L/B), Hyundai

+ 7:50.8

of the 8th

Suninen/Markkula (FIN), Hyundai

+ 8:12,4

9

Lindholm/Hämäläinen (FIN), Skoda

+8:25.6

10

Kovanlainen/Kitagawa (FIN/J), Skoda

+8:59.8

World Drivers’ Championship final scores 13 runs***

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Team/Nat/Car

Points

1

Kalle Rovanperä (FIN), Toyota (Champion)

255

2

Ott Tanak (EE), Hyundai

205

3

Thierry Neuville (B), Hyundai

193

4

Elfin Evans (UK), Toyota

134

5

Takamoto Katsuta (J), Toyota

122

6

Sebastien Ogier (F), Toyota

97

7

Craig Breen (England), Ford

84

of the 8th

Dani Sordo (E), Hyundai

59

9

Esapekka Lappi (FIN), Toyota

58

10

Gus Greensmith (England), Ford

44

World Constructors’ Championship final results after 13 races***

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Team/Nat/Car

Points

1

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT (Champion)

525

2

Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT

457

3

M Sport Ford WRT

257

4

Toyota Gazoo WRT NG Racing

138

*** subject to confirmation by the FIA