These last weeks, Thierry neuville tested the hybrid prototype of the South Korean brand for next season in order to adapt to the new driving challenges imposed by this technical development. The pilot Hyundai Motorsport has been particularly vocal against the new WRC regulations, which will introduce not only the hybrid but also a reduction in aerodynamics and suspension travel, as well as the elimination of the center differential.
Although the new cars are technically stripped down in some areas, they will be much safer thanks to a stronger chassis, and also more powerful when hybrid technology is activated. Despite these improvements, he was not really convinced by his driving experience.
“It’s like driving a Formula E on a rally road”, Neuville said during a press briefing before Rally Spain about his first feelings. “It is too early to say how it will turn out. A lot of things are not yet working as they should with the hybrid system. It is very difficult to have real feedback.”
While Hyundai’s prototype is far from a definitive version, the Belgian explained that the sensations of driving with the hybrid have so far been very unpredictable due to the concentration required to recover the energy under braking in order to be able to use all the power.
“For me so far it’s gonna be a change [de style de pilotage]. You need to recover energy when braking to be able to discharge it when accelerating. If you do not reach the target under braking, you cannot have any additional power at the output, which makes the whole thing inconsistent and unpredictable “, he explained.
“At the same time, if you hit your target and accelerate and then let go of the throttle, you lose all the power you have. It’s very inconsistent so far. We have to go further in the tests, there is too much that is not yet clear. I don’t know if anyone is going to be a big fan of the early versions of this new car. The only thing that is exciting is that nobody knows where we are going. next year.”
Focused on the penultimate round of the WRC season, this weekend in Spain, Neuville expressed his confidence in his ability to fight for victory, unlike Rally Finland during which he retired in end of second stage.
“We cannot compare Finland with here”, said the Belgian. “I’m not at all worried about our speed for this weekend. If the car is running well and I’m comfortable we should be in the fight for the win.”