New Hyundai signings Nicky Catsburg and Augusto Farfus – together with regular drivers Gabriele Tarquini and Norbert Michelisz – got to grips with the i30 N TCR for the first time in testing at the Algarve International Circuit in Portugal.
Catsburg has been signed to race with Hyundai in the 2019 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) after just one year away from touring car competition, whilst Brazilian Farfus is continuing in tin tops after switching from the DTM in which he has spent the past seven seasons.
Together with 2018 WTCR champion Tarquini, who carried out the bulk of the development work on the car in 2017 and 2018, and Michelisz, the two new recruits got to try out the car during three days of running.
Catsburg and Farfus drove the car on the second and third days, completing the test according to plan.
Dutchman Catsburg in particular likened the car to some of his previous touring car steeds, which include a TC1-spec LADA in 2015 and 2016 and a Volvo in 2017.
“When I first drove the Hyundai i30 N TCR I could immediately tell it was a different type of car from what I have raced before, my first drive in a TCR,” said Catsburg. “However, the handling characteristics were still very familiar from the front-wheel-drive cars I have competed in before.
“You have to push it in a similar way to get the performance from it. It’s clear that Gabriele did a great job with developing the car, and that Hyundai Motorsport and their customers have created a very strong package.
“I’m looking forward to getting to learn more about the car in testing over the winter, and of course to racing with the Hyundai customers next year.”
Farfus has spent the past 12 years racing rear-wheel drive machinery with BMW, and the 35-year-old has not raced a front-wheel drive touring car since competing in 2006 in an Alfa Romeo 156 with N.Technology.
“It was 2006 the last time I was racing at front-wheel-drive car, but from my first laps in the Hyundai i30 N TCR I felt comfortable, and able to push the car,” said Farfus.
“Before my runs on track both Gabriele and Norbi were able to give an idea of what to expect from the balance of the chassis, and their experience was really valuable. Still, I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I was able to get up to speed.
“It’s very nice to start the Christmas and New Year break with a successful first test and a positive feeling about the car, which I can take into 2019, and to the customer team in FIA WTCR.
“I already get the feeling that it’s going to be good season!”
Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Deputy General Manager Andrea Adamo added that he hopes the test will ensure Hyundai remain at the front of the field in 2019.
“In 2018 the FIA World Touring Car Cup was extremely competitive, and everyone expects next season to be even closer.
“Our customers enjoyed a superb first year with the Hyundai i30 N TCR, but we need to work harder now to make sure that they remain at the top of the category.
“This week not only helped the four drivers who will compete in WTCR in 2019 but gave us more information that we can pass on to our customers to allow them to get the maximum performance from the car when they make their own tests and start racing next season.”
The teams which will campaign the i30 N TCR cars in the 2019 WTCR will be revealed in the new year.