Hyundai Motorsport N will seek to compete for pole positions and victories as the team tries for its first 2022 King of the Weekend podium at this weekend’s fifth round of the FIA ETCR eTouring Car World Cup, Race IT.
The squad returns to Autodromo Vallelunga, where it hopes to build on its recent gains in form and secure a podium finish. The venue also holds great memories for the squad as it saw the first ETCR win with the Hyundai Veloster N ETCR in PURE ETCR in 2021.
Last time out at Circuit Zolder for Race BE the team continued its steady progress this season, as illustrated by Jean-Karl Vernay setting the fastest lap in his Qualifying session to secure pole position for his first battle.
“We saw in Belgium that we were very quick, and we’ve now taken two poles in four events this season, so I am confident we can continue this in Vallelunga next weekend,” said Vernay
“It is a track that everybody knows and I think we have a good chance at being on the podium. I would love to win King of the Weekend after missing out to Mikel last year by such a small margin.
“We know the areas where we can still improve, and the whole team is working hard to ensure we have the tools to fight at the front. The level of competition is incredibly high this season, but there are plenty of opportunities to score strong points in this format and secure strong results.”
In Zolder, both Mikel Azcona and Nicky Catsburg took victories in their Quarter and Semi Finals respectively and are confident heading to Italy.
“I’m really looking forward to return to Vallelunga, where I won my first King of the Weekend crown last year in PURE ETCR,” said Azcona.
“I’ve driven at this circuit a lot and have many kilometres under my belt, which is a very helpful feeling. The team is working very hard to improve the car and our results. We finished Race BE on a high with second place in the Super Final, so my goal is to carry that momentum forward into the next race. We know how important Qualifying is in determining the rest of the weekend; I want to be in the top-three at the end of that session and put myself in a position to score as many points as possible.”
Catsburg echoed the positive outlook. “I have high expectations for Race IT,” he said. “I think everyone will be strong in Vallelunga and the lap times will be closer because we have all tested there, but I would say this circuit is a bit more what I am used to compared to the last two tracks we have raced at, so let’s see how it goes.
“I am growing in confidence with every race as I adapt to the Hyundai Veloster N ETCR and the unique format of this series. I believe I am now in a position to fight for more victories. Although I won my Semi Finals in both Spain and Belgium, I am definitely hungry for more in Italy.”
Finally, Norbert Michelisz was quickest in Free Practice 2 in Zolder and was involved in close on-track fights in the races and hopes his Vallelunga experience will be of benefit this weekend.
“We did some winter testing in Vallelunga ahead of the start of the season, so it is the circuit I have driven the most in the Hyundai Veloster N ETCR,” he explained. “In theory this should help me and I like the track a lot, and we should be strong.
“The first corner is quite exciting, you are just on the edge of being flat out through there and doing above 200kph – that is always a nice yet challenging experience. The road is quite bumpy, which for me is quite old school, and I like those circuits a lot. We learned a lot from the car in Belgium but it didn’t always show in the results. I think we can be there this weekend.”
Overseeing the squad, Hyundai Motorsport Director of Marketing and PR, Stefan Ph. Henrich gave his take on the event ahead.
“Heading to a circuit we know well, we are confident we have the package to challenge for a podium finish this weekend,” he said.
“The Hyundai Veloster N ETCR was competing for the top positions in Vallelunga in the first-ever PURE ETCR event, and we have learned so much more since that inaugural race. We made a good start at the Race BE and our target for next weekend is to continue that pace throughout the event to secure our best result of the season. It is an incredibly close field but we are improving with every session, and we believe we can have our strongest weekend yet at the Race IT.”