Ott Tänak Reportedly Rejoining Hyundai For 2024 Season
Ott Tänak is reportedly rejoining the Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT for the 2024 season. Find out more below.
After One Year
Tänak left Hyundai last offseason after competing with the team since 2020. Tänak’s departure from the team was pretty much known before it was announced. As he and teammate Thierry Neuville didn’t have the best relationship at the time. With the team heavily favoring Neuville, even when Tänak had a strong chance at winning the drivers championship. Tänak had made some comments to the media about the situation and mainly Neuville, although they did not directly mention Neuville. Regardless of the dispute, Tänak and Neuville still reportedly have loads of respect for each other. Tänak moved back to M-Sport after leaving Hyundai and that move hasn’t been the greatest. With the Puma Rally1 encountering many reliability issues throughout the season.
Why Is Tänak Rejoining Hyundai?
It’s no secret Hyundai’s i20 has reliability issues much like M-Sport Puma. However, Tänak is currently the most successful driver in that car. Winning 3 of the 5 events the car has won at. Tänak had a chance at winning last years championship until Hyundai chose to let Neuville win EKO Acropolis Rally Greece over Tänak. For Tänak rejoining Hyundai is almost a no-brainer if you look past the issues with Neuville and such. As joining Hyundai gives Tänak a chance at winning the championship. Sure the car won’t be suited to his driving style, that didn’t stop him last season, however. To be completely honest, being at M-Sport didn’t give Tänak much of a hope of winning the championship. Tänak proved this past weekend at Rally Chile BioBio that the Puma can win, but it takes a lot of luck. It is also worth mentioning the Hyundai Tänak left 18 months ago isn’t the same as it is now.
What This Means For Hyundai
Tänak rejoining the team gives Hyundai two top drivers again. The pairing of Tänak and Neuville worked well. You had two guys who could win rallies. Well, this is good as we have seen it can lead to issues, especially when the two drivers in question are fiercely competitive. Tänak is arguably the second-best driver in the championship currently behind Kalle Rovanperä. However, the gap between the two isn’t small. I mean we are talking about the guy who gave Rovanperä a run for his money last season, although that push by Tänak started just a bit too late. Having two top drivers gives Hyundai a strong chance at winning the manufacturers’ championship, something they did in 2019 and 2020. However, that also relies on Hyundai getting a car that actually works for a full event more than 50% of the time.
What Tänak’s Return Means For Lappi
Esapekka Lappi took over Tänak’s role in Hyundai after Tänak left. Lappi has done decently well this season. Tänak rejoining the team ultimately means Lappi won’t get a full-time drive with the team. That is unless Hyundai is getting the fourth car they are rumored to be getting. However, if they do get that fourth car it’ll likely be used to give a young driver seat time in a Rally1 car. For Lappi, it currently looks as if he will either split the third car with somebody, probably Teemu Suninen or look for another team to join. Lappi should stick with Hyundai if given the chance, however, there is reason to believe he’ll move. Lappi spent last season driving part-time for Toyota. However, he likely won’t rejoin Toyota. I suspect if he were to leave Hyundai he’ll join M-Sport, but why? If Lappi wants a full-time drive next season M-Sport is the place to do it. With M-Sport, Lappi would be the number one driver. Plus the team would be able to build the car around his wants and likes. For M-Sport it also makes sense. As Lappi won’t break the bank while giving them a decently good driver.