Blog: Should Hyundai make team orders in Greece?

During Acropolis Rally, many discussions have been made if Hyundai should or not decide team orders which would be in favor of Ott Tanak and against Thierry Neuville. In this blog, we will examine why Julien Moncet was in such a difficult position in Greece.

First of all, Thierry Neuville has been a Hyundai driver since 2014 when the Korean brand rejoined WRC. This fact proves that the Belgian is very dedicated and loyal to his team. He has spent many hours developing all the i20s that were in WRC since 2014 and has delivered many wins and podiums to the Koreans, so let’s say he can be considered as the #1 driver of Hyundai. Before his victory in Greece, the last time that he was at the highest place of the podium was at Rally Spain eleven months ago, so Acropolis win was for his prestige as he has the winning form and he proved that in Belgium last month despite his crash on Saturday. Last but not least, right now, he is the highest paying driver, not only among his teammates, but also among the grid, which means that Hyundai has invested many moneys in him.

On the other hand, Ott Tanak is a WRC Champion as he clinched his first title in World Rally Championship in 2019, so let’s say he has the upper hand in comparison with the Belgian who still has not put his name in the list with the WRC Champions. In addition to that, statistically Tanak has greater chances to fight with Kalle Rovanpera for this year’s championship as their gap is at 53 points whereas Neuville is 76 points behind the Toyota driver at the end of Acropolis Rally. However, the strangest statement from last weekend was made by Julien Moncet who said that Hyundai did not want to lose a 1-2-3 finish and Tanak should keep his second place. This statement is unconvincing, because the Korean team still could secure a top three finish, even if Neuville swapped his position with Tanak (the position swap could have happened at the end of Acropolis Rally at the Service Park where Neuville could take penalty if he was late for the last scrutineering or before a stage end where Neuville could slow down just few meters before the finish line). But it seems that Hyundai forgets that the Estonian has won three rallies so far this season and one of them was Rally Finland, a rally that the Alzenau team has never won before and Tanak broke the domination of Toyota there this year.

Since Ott Tanak is closer to Kalle Rovanpera on the drivers’ championship, is already a WRC Champion and broke the curse of Hyundai in Finland, the Koreans should treat him like he deserves to be treated and should have sacrificed Thierry Neuville in Greece. But now, Hyundai made Tanak’s work more difficult as he could have a 46-point instead of a 53-point gap with the championship leader after Acropolis Rally. And, if Neuville’s problem was about keeping the trophy for the first place, he should make an agreement with Tanak for that. The main problem for Hyundai is that it has two #1 drivers, but the team should change its mindset if they want to win the drivers' championship as well some time in the future and it would be no weird if Tanak moves to M-Sport Ford next year as this is speculated since Ypres Rally Belgium.

Photo Credits: Hyundai

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