Hyundai Motorsport has announced it is to expand its activities in rallying this season, following the launch of the Hyundai Motorsport Driver Development Program.
The foundation of a Driver Development Program is another step in Hyundai Motorsport’s increasing presence in rallying, after the introduction of the New Generation i20 R5 last year. South Korean Chewon Lim is the first competitor to receive the support of the scheme a decision, Hyundai states, will help promote international rallying in its domestic market.
After competing for six years in circuit racing, including a stint in Formula 3 in Europe, Chewon turned his attention to starting a new career in rallying. In 2015 the 33-year-old from Seoul beat 5,000 applicants to win South Korean reality TV show ‘The Rallyist’ which aimed to find a new international rally driving talent.
As overall winner of the program, Chewon now recieves support from Hyundai, taking him through the different driving style needed for rallying compared to circuit racing and learning how to make, and understand, accurate pacenotes. With Hyundai’s assistance Chewon and Belgian co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe, made their competitive debut in June last year, entering a total of seven events in an R2-specification car. The pair will continue to work together throughout 2017, as they graduate to the New Generation i20 R5.
Chewon Lim said: “This is a big step in my rally career. To be part of the Hyundai Motorsport Driver Development Program and have the support of a successful WRC team is very encouraging for me. Last year I felt I made a lot of progress. I had to learn a totally new system, having Martijn beside me in the car compared to before when I would be alone. The most important thing I had to learn to do is to make and understand precise pacenotes. Before I was able to do laps of a circuit a learn everything about each corner. Now I may only see a corner once on the recce, but when I am competing on stages I quickly have to understand and trust Martijn and the note. The move into the New Generation i20 R5 is another challenge for me. There is a lot more power in the car, and it is also four-wheel drive, which means I have to slightly adapt my driving style again to get the best out it. Every time I get in the car I will be learning more, but that is the target.”
Hyundai Motorsport Team Manager Alain Penasse, who sat on the TV show judging panel that selected Chewon said: “One of the things that most impressed me about Chewon was his ability to learn quickly, and he has maintained that since he started working with Hyundai Motorsport. Through his training and testing last year he learnt the basics of rallying, and was able to build a good relationship with Martijn as his co-driver. In 2017, with the support of the Hyundai Motorsport Driver Development Program, their progression as a crew will continue. They will move up to the New Generation i20 R5, with a full year of events ahead. It will be a new challenge for both Chewon, but it is also an important phase in his development as a rally driver.”
Chewon and Martijn’s first rally in the New Generation i20 R5 is early next month, at the Saarland-Pfalz Rallye (March 3-4) in Germany.