Hyundai withdraws WTCR teams in BoP controversy

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Hyundai Motorsport has instructed its two customer FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) teams not to compete in the second meeting of the 2020 season, claiming that its cars are being technically penalized.

The South Korean brand announced its decision to withdraw the BRC Racing and Engstler Motorsport teams on the morning of practice and qualifying sessions at the meeting, on the Nurburgring Nordschleife in Germany.

Hyundai, provider of the car for the 2018 and 2019 WTCR champion drivers, was critical of the balance and performance (BoP) settings and engine ECU exemptions mandated by the series promoters before the opening WTCR rounds at Zolder on September 13.

A waiver issued by the FIA Touring Car Committee allowing several entrants to race with the 2019 ECU rather than a standardized Magneti Marelli unit introduced for 2020, angered Hyundai motorsport head Andrea Adamo, despite an increase in the BoP power of the brand’s i30 N TCR race cars from 95% to 97.5%.

At Zolder the Hyundais struggled for straight-line pace and their highest finish was eighth in race 2, benefiting from retirements. At the meeting Adamo hinted that if the brand was clearly not wanted in the series, it would withdraw.

Before the Nurburgring meeting the Touring Car Committee made BoP changes, restoring the Hyundais’ power to 97.5% but also reducing the compensation weight of the rival Cupra cars from +40kg to +20kg, and the Renault Megane RS from +30kg to +20kg.

Shortly after, however, Hyundai announced its withdrawal from the Nurburgring meeting. “Hyundai Motorsport has the feeling that neither the company nor its customer teams are given equal treatment in the series to other competitors and are not made to feel welcome,” a prepared statement said. “Hyundai Motorsport remains committed to demonstrating the high-performance credentials of its racing vehicles on an international stage, in series that are reflective of Hyundai’s N brand,” the statement added.

In response, a joint statement from the WTCR promoters, the FIA, WSC and Eurosport Events, said that constructive dialog would continue with the Hyundai Motorsport customer teams. “All the three parties are united in their mission to deliver a fair competition for all entrants, from a sporting, technical and promotional point of view, providing a platform to compete on an equal basis,” the statement said.

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Andrew Charman is a regular contributor to PMW. He has been working in motorsport for more than 35 years, specialising in Touring Cars and US motorsport, particularly NASCAR.

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