When you’re a rear-wheel-drive rookie and you only sign your deal for an all-new series a couple of weeks before the start of the season, you can be forgiven for thinking yourself on the back foot more than a little.
This was the case for John Filippi in 2020 as he joined Hyundai Motorsport N’s line-up for PURE ETCR – the world’s first all-electric, multi-brand touring car series.
With team-mates Augusto Farfus and Jean-Karl Vernay having not only greater career experience in rear-wheel-drive machinery, but also more kilometres with the Veloster N ETCR pre-season,
Despite this, the 26-year-old Frenchman, buoyed by securing the runner-up spot in TCR Europe in 2020, came out all guns blazing at the Vallelunga opener to end the weekend as the second-best Hyundai driver points-wise.
His first Battle win came next time out at MotorLand Aragón after an entertaining scrap with Romeo Ferraris-M1RA Giulia ETCRs of Oli Webb and Luca Filippi (no relation), but aggressive driving from others often saw him come off worst in wheel-to-wheel scraps.
There were mishaps, such as contact with the wall during an extra practice session inserted into the Copenhagen schedule to allow drivers to assess the track in damp conditions, and a high-speed 360-degree spin onto the grass in Pau-Arnos practice, but when the time came for Battle, he drove error-free and was often a match for his team-mates.
In fact, Filippi was as badly-affected by unfavourable Draws before the track action began as fellow Hyundai driver Tom Chilton. Without this, more Battle wins would surely have come his way.
Seventh in both Italy and Hungary were his best results, though his 43 points at the Hungaroring on a weekend where neither Hyundai, nor anyone, were a match for CUPRA X Zengo Motorsport, this has to rank as a more impressive achievement than it looks.
In fact, had he finished just one place higher in his DHL SuperFinal, he would have been just one place behind team-mate Vernay overall!
Should the #27 – famously carried by fellow French ‘Islander’ Jean Alesi (as well, of course, as French-speaking Gilles Villeneuve) in F1, return in 2022, fans can be certain of more swashbuckling action.