The South Korean manufacturer on Friday revealed that Esapekka Lappi will, as expected, replace 2019 world champion Ott Tanak, alongside Thierry Neuville, while Dani Sordo and former M-Sport driver Craig Breen will share the third i20 N entry.
Hyundai sparked the start of the WRC silly season when it announced it was to part ways with Oliver Solberg, who had been sharing the third i20 N with Sordo this season.
It then found itself requiring a second driver after Tanak exercised an option to end his contract with the team a year early.
As a result, Lappi will now fill the seat vacated by Tanak and will contest a full WRC season for the first since since his 2020 campaign with M-Sport.
The Finn was widely tipped to take the Hyundai seat following Tanak’s departure after impressing on his return to WRC’s top flight this year, sharing the third GR Yaris with Sebastien Ogier, where he scored three podiums from seven rounds.
Last year’s WRC2 champion Andreas Mikkelsen was the favourite to land the seat until Lappi emerged as a contender.
“Life is full of surprises! Getting a chance to join Hyundai Motorsport and to drive a full-calendar WRC program was something we didn’t expect,” said Lappi.
“This is truly a dream and a unique opportunity; we are very happy to join the Hyundai Motorsport family.
“The team showed during the 2022 season that it is capable of developing the car a lot during the season and has chances to win on every surface.
“From what I’ve heard already, 2023 looks very promising. We are well aware that there is a lot of work to do, but with Janne [Ferme, co-driver], I am committed to it.
“I believe we have a lot to give to the whole team. I want to thank Hyundai Motorsport for demonstrating their trust in us; we will do everything we can to be successful and to achieve our common goals.”
Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1
Photo by: Tomasz Kaliński
Hyundai cited a wish to sign experienced drivers following its decision not to renew its deal with Solberg for the third car. To fulfil that objective, the team has agreed to extend is agreement with Sordo, who will now contest his 19th season in the WRC.
“The decision to sign again with Hyundai Motorsport was a clear and easy one for me; over ten years they have become a family,” said Sordo.
“This is my team and where I belong. They have offered me another season in which I can share the…