Hyundai Motorsport N aims to end the FIA ETCR – eTouring Car World Cup season on a high at the sixth and final round of the year, Race DE, next weekend.
The squad, which is based in Germany 400km away from Sachsenring in Alzenau,to build on its first Manufacturer and King of the Weekend crowns of 2022 from Race IT with another strong weekend.
“Our goal for Race DE is simple: to bring home second in the manufacturers’ standings and third in the drivers’,” said Hyundai Motorsport Director of Marketing and PR, Stefan Ph. Henrich.
“Sachsenring will be a fitting finale for the season. It will be nice for us to finish on home soil, although we were disappointed that were unable to close the year in Korea as planned. We’re carrying the momentum of our most successful FIA ETCR weekend from the Race IT; we made an important step forward, and if our efforts had not been thwarted by punctures we could have secured a double podium. Now we have to put everything together and extract the full potential of the Hyundai Veloster N ETCR.”
Leading Hyundai Motorsport driver Mikel Azcona secured a clean sweep of points with his Hyundai Veloster N ETCR to clinch the top step of the podium last time out. The Spaniard remains in contention for a top-three finish overall – and mathematically could still take the title – although he is only eight points ahead of Maxime Martin in fourth place.
“Heading into the final race of the year, I want to make sure I finish third in the drivers’ standings and will defend it hard,” said Azcona.
“We have seen that Maxime has been very competitive in the last few weekends and he will be the man we have to beat – and lose as little as possible to. This will be my first time at the Sachsenring; I have been preparing by watching a lot of videos and onboards, as well as testing it out on the simulator. My first season with Hyundai Motorsport hasn’t been the easiest for us, but we have been constantly improving and learning. If we can bring home third, and second in the manufacturers’ standings, it will feel like victory for us.”
Norbert Michelisz meanwhile was set to secure his highest haul of points of the season before a puncture prevented him from finishing second in the Pool Fast Super Final last time out.
“It is strange that we are already at the last FIA ETCR race of the year, the season has gone by so fast,” said Michelisz.
“I feel prepared for Race DE. In terms of driving and getting to know the car, I feel I have made a good progression. I’ve never been to the Sachsenring – I haven’t even driven it on the sim. I need to learn the layout quickly, but I have had these challenges in the past. Race IT was very good, I was a bit unlucky with the puncture but we saw in Mikel’s performance that the car is there. The Sachsenring looks like it can be similar to Vallelunga in terms of layout; because of this, I think we can be competitive there, so the target has to be to finish the season on a high.”
Nicky Catsburg was on track to claim second in the King of the Weekend standings before his own unfortunate puncture in the Pool Furious Super Final, which he was leading, snatched a podium finish out of his grasp in Vallelunga and has something of an advantage over many of his rivals with prior racing experience of the German track.
“I have been to the Sachsenring a couple of times with GT cars,” Catsburg explained. “It is a very cool track with low and high-speed corners, which I am really looking forward to with the Hyundai Veloster N ETCR. I have a slight concern about punctures again, as it is a high load track so I hope we can avoid them. Other than that, I cannot wait to be back again. Unfortunately, it is already the last race of the season but I really want to win a Super Final. I was very close last time in Race IT and I think we deserve a bit of redemption for that one.”
Finally, in Vallelunga Jean-Karl Vernay finished third in the final race of the weekend after a difficult start to the event and is aiming to start at the front for the season-finale.
“My only experience of the Sachsenring is through playing video games!” said JK.
“It looks very narrow and tricky, which I think will be very good for FIA ETCR. I’m hoping to score another pole position, which will put me on the best foot for the rest of Race DE. The level is very high this year and much more intense, so it will be a challenge to beat our competitors – but after our performance at Race IT, I am feeling confident we can achieve that. The battle for second place is tight and our full focus will be on scoring as many points as possible. It would be great to win Manufacturer and King of the Weekend for the second race in a row and finish the year on the podium.”