Hyundai: Who Should Get A Part-Time Drive Next Season
With Ott Tänak reportedly rejoining Hyundai next season, who should get a part-time drive with the team? Find out below.
Dani Sordo has been with Hyundai since they rejoined the WRC in 2014. The only other driver that has been with the team since then is Thierry Neuville. Is this the end of Sordo’s near decade-long run with Hyundai? It’s possible. As Sordo is 40 years old currently. It’s already been confirmed Sordo will be with Hyundai next season, however, it wasn’t specified if that was for a driving role or a different role. Sordo hasn’t had the greatest 2023 season, at least in comparison to 2022. Last season Sordo was pretty much a lock for a third-place finish at any event he competed in. If Sordo wants a part-time drive next season there’s a 99% chance he will get it. It’s not really even a question. The main question here is does Sordo want it? It’s a coin toss if he’ll want another part-time drive.
Esapekka Lappi is currently a full-time driver for Hyundai. However, with Tänak rejoining the team it forces him into either a part-time role or out of the team. Lappi came to Hyundai for a full-time drive, something he likely thought would continue past this season. Otherwise, he likely wouldn’t have left Toyota last offseason. Lappi has had a decent 2023 season so far. The Fin has finished on the podium 4 times so far this season, including three consecutive podium finishes between the Croatia Rally and Rally Italia Sardegna. Lappi has the talent and the skills to be a full-time driver but with the current state of the WRC, it’s unlikely he gets a full-time drive elsewhere.
He could go back to M-Sport and be the top guy there. Lappi’s options are going to be limited, he could potentially go back to Toyota and drive part-time for them again, but then that would either take away from Takamoto Katsuta or another young driver. Lappi will have a lot of thinking to do in a short period of time.
What a story Teemu Suninen has been this season. Suninen was pushed down to WRC2 last season. After going up and down between WRC1 and WRC2 in 2021. Suninen was given another chance at the sports top level this season. Taking over for the late Craig Breen who passed away during a pre-event test at the Croatia Rally. Suninen has made the most of this opportunity, finishing 5th in Estonia, 4th in Finland and was on pace to finish top 3 in Chile before he crashed out. Suninen will likely get a drive with Hyundai next season once again. As he has shown pace and has learned and gotten used to the car rather quickly. Suninen may be able to win rallies or at least finish on or close to the podium consistently for Hyundai.
A Tough Choice
Hyundai is gonna have a tough choice to make before next season. Especially if all three drivers want a part-time drive with the team. All three drivers have their benefits and reasons they should get the drive. The most likely drivers to get the role will be Suninen and Lappi. Sordo will likely call it quits. However, a lot can change between now and the start of the 2024 season.
Ott Tänak Reportedly Rejoining Hyundai For 2024 Season