|Hyundai Motorsport confirms four-driver line-up for 2019 FIA WTCR campaign
A quartet of Hyundai i30 N TCR will compete in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup in 2019, with four drivers to race with customer teams in the championship.
- Four i30 N TCR will line-up on the grid for next year’s WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup with a quartet of drivers set to join Hyundai Motorsport customer teams in the series
- 2018 BRC Racing Team teammates Gabriele Tarquini and Norbert Michelisz will be joined by Nicky Catsburg and Augusto Farfus, with both men making their return to international Touring Car racing
- The name of the customer teams, as well as the exact driver line-up in the two-car teams will be announced ahead of the start of the 2019 campaign.
Next year will see the return to the grid of both 2018 winner* Gabriele Tarquini and Norbert Michelisz. Both men now collect Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing driver status after giving the BRC Racing Team second place in the teams’ standings with a combined total of six victories over the course of the season.
They will be joined in the paddock by Nicky Catsburg and Augusto Farfus, who will get their first taste of WTCR action in 2019. Though the pair are new names to both Hyundai and to TCR-specification racing, neither is a stranger to top-flight Touring Car competition. Dutchman Catsburg has a pair of victories in the World Touring Car Championship, alongside a successful career in GT racing that includes podiums in the 24 hour races at the Nürburgring, Daytona and Spa-Francorchamps, where he was part of the winning line-up in 2015.
Farfus is also a familiar name in endurance racing circles, as well as the Germany-based DTM series. However, he brings a fine pedigree to the FIA WTCR paddock after twice finishing third in the WTCC, with a total of 15 wins in the former pinnacle of international Touring Cars.
The inaugural FIA WTCR season proved incredibly successful for the Hyundai Motorsport-built car. Drivers at the wheel of the i30 N TCR collected a total of 13 wins from the 30 race campaign, and notched up more than 30 podiums. Hyundai customer teams finished first and second in the teams’ standings, with their drivers filling three of the top four spots in the overall points, with Gabriele Tarquini lifting the title, while teammate Michelisz finished fourth overall.
For Tarquini, who made history with victory in the first ever FIA WTCR race, and added four more wins to his tally, the title was a second in world-level Touring Cars, to add to his 2009 WTCC victory. Next year he will continue his stint at the wheel of the Hyundai TCR, having previously acted as the lead test driver for the car during its development phase. Michelisz highlighted his pace at the wheel of the i30 N TCR with a dominant lights-to-flag win at the Slovakiaring in July. He also proved a force in qualifying, winning three pole positions, including both on offer at his home round at the Hungaroring.
The pair will be looking to continue their strong form in the championship when the 2019 season begins, and, together with their new stablemates, will work with Hyundai Motorsport customer teams over the coming months in readiness for the season ahead.
All four drivers will get their preparations for 2019 underway next month, with a three-day test at the Portimao circuit in Portugal. The exact driver line-up for the season, as well as the names of the teams they will drive for will be announced at a later date.
Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Deputy General Manager Andrea Adamo said: “The 2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup was obviously very successful for our Hyundai i30 N TCR customers. However, already 2019 looks as though it will be even more competitive so we know that neither we, nor our customers can relax over the winter. We will now have four fantastic drivers racing with our Hyundai Motorsport customers, each of whom is capable of lifting the title. We can now focus on working with them and the teams over the winter to make sure they are in the best possible position at the start of the new season.”
Gabriele Tarquini said: “After winning the FIA WTCR* in the first year of racing with the i30 N TCR I am obviously very happy to be returning to the series to defend my title with a Hyundai in 2019. This year the series was very competitive. Next year I expect the racing to be even closer, with more manufacturers and more drivers – including my new teammates – to battle with. Together we can now work over the winter to prepare for next season to make sure the i30 N TCR is right at the top of the standings once again.”
Norbert Michelisz said: “Everybody saw in 2018 how strong the Hyundai i30 N TCR is in FIA WTCR with the results myself and Gabriele were able to score. Together we had a very strong season for BRC Racing Team in the teams’ standings. In 2019 we should be able to race at the front again, especially with the added support as Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing drivers. I had a good finish to the year, with the podium in Macau, and I’m looking forward to getting back to work to prepare for the start of next season.”
Nicky Catsburg said: "I am really happy to return to Touring Car racing in 2019 by entering the WTCR. I have seen most of the 2018 FIA WTCR races and I can’t deny that I really wanted to be a part of it in 2019. I have worked with Gabriele and Augusto before and Norbi I know well from my WTCC times. I honestly can’t wait to work together with them next year. I have not raced a TCR car yet, but Gabriele just won the championship so I am sure he will bring me up to speed quickly!"
Augusto Farfus said: “I am very grateful for my time, and my success in GT racing, but after seeing the level of competition in the FIA WTCR, I am very excited to be joining the grid for 2019. It will be a new challenge for me, as I have not driven a TCR car before – in fact the last time I raced in front wheel drive was back in 2006. I am excited to get to work for the Hyundai Motorsport customer teams to make sure I, and the rest of the i30 N TCR drivers in the championship make a fast start to the new season.”
*Subject to confirmation of the results by the FIA