Hyundai Motorsport N are on a mission for more points at the fourth round of the FIA ETCR eTouring Car World Cup as they head to the circuit on the calendar nearest to their home base with four drivers who have previous experience of Zolder.
As all four drivers have previously competed at the 4.010km Circuit Zolder, the team is looking to leverage this to claim its first King of the Weekend title of the season. The track offers a complex mix of high and slow-speed corners, high kerbs, and heavy braking zones, meaning previous experience will be invaluable across the weekend.
For stand-out performer on debut last time out in Jarama, Nicky Catsburg views the Belgian track as somewhere akin to a home race.
“Race BE almost feels like a home event for me, as I’ve raced there quite a lot and it is not far from where I live,” said the Dutchman, who claimed a victory on his debut in the series in his Semi Final in Spain.
“In general, this weekend should be easier for me because I have one event under my belt now, so it will take less time to adjust and find a rhythm with the Hyundai Veloster N ETCR. My learning curve is by no means over, but I’m feeling more and more comfortable in the car with every lap. I’m looking forward to the event and will attempt to put myself at the front from the start. I will have some friends and family there to support me, so I can’t wait to battle in front of them.”
Mikel Azcona remains third in the drivers’ classification while the team was the second highest-scoring manufacturer in Jarama.
“I can’t wait to race at Circuit Zolder,” said Azcona. “I previously raced there two years ago in FIA WTCR. It’s a very technical and complicated track, it’s all about hard braking, so we need to focus on this area as it is one that can allow us to make gains in the races. We’ve already made some steps forward from the start of the season. I’m very confident on this circuit already and I am sure we can be successful at Race BE. I need to try and maintain third place in the standings – that’s my goal for the weekend – and to do that, we need to be challenging at the front.”
Jean-Karl Vernay is hoping that good memories of the track lead to good results this time out.
“I’ve raced at Circuit Zolder twice in the past and secured some great results. I have really nice memories and hopefully I will add to those at the Race BE,” he said.
“The target is to have a weekend free of any issues and challenge for the top positions. I’m charged up to come back fighting from Jarama and start on the best foot. We know how important it is to have a good Qualifying, as it can determine the rest of the weekend in FIA ETCR. I have some big expectations for this event, and I want to be in contention for the King of the Weekend.”
Race BE will also see two of Hyundai Motorsport’s challengers unite for a special demonstration on Saturday 9 July. WRC driver Thierry Neuville will swap cars with Norbert Michelisz, with the Belgian taking to the cockpit of the Hyundai Veloster N ETCR and the Hungarian experiencing the hybrid Hyundai i20 N Rally1 for the first time.
“I’m really looking forward to the next round of FIA ETCR,” said Michelisz, who had his strongest weekend of the season so far last time out, with his victory in the Quarter Final enabling him to compete in the higher-scoring Semi Final and secure a top-three start on the Super Final grid.
“We had a good weekend at the Race SP, and now I feel really prepared and confident for Belgium.
“I know Circuit Zolder well, which is always helpful in this series as we only have one Free Practice session before the important part of the weekend begins, but it is a tough circuit to master. I hope that I can keep the momentum from the previous round going and fight for similarly good results. I’m also really looking forward to the Car Swap, it will be a new experience but one I’ve been looking forward to since I first started working with Hyundai.”
Hyundai Motorsport Director of Marketing and PR, Stefan Ph. Henrich reckons his squad are really getting into their stride.
“We are really starting to find a good rhythm in FIA ETCR, and our target is to continue this momentum at the Race BE,” he said.
“Circuit Zolder is no stranger to our drivers, which means we should be able to hit the ground running from the very start. Since our visit to Race SP, we have spent time identifying ways we can make further gains on-track to be in contention for King and Manufacturer of the Weekend. The competition is very strong but we are confident that we can have a successful weekend with the Hyundai Veloster N ETCR and our knowledge of this technical circuit.”