Finn Juho Hänninen, who has been crucial in helping develop Hyundai Motorsport’s i20 WRC car that will make its debut at the start of the 2014 World Rally Championship season, has been confirmed as the seconds works driver and teammate to Belgian Thierry Neuville.
Hänninen, who spent the year testing the i20 WRC, spent 3 500 km behind the wheel of the Korean WRC contender. His participation in the 2014 will be restricted to select events however.
“I am very pleased to continue our working relationship with Juho. He was the first driver to sign for Hyundai Motorsport earlier this year and he was the one who completed the first ever runs in the Hyundai i20 WRC. He has shown great loyalty to our new team and it is fitting that he joins us at a number of specific events during our maiden WRC season,” said Michel Nandan, Hyundai Motorsport’s team principal.
Hänninen, who has competed with success in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, the FIA European Rally Championship and Super 2000 class of the WRC will once again be partnered by his co-driver for the past year, compatriot Tomi Tuominen.
“I am really honoured to have been chosen by Hyundai to be one of the drivers of the second i20 WRC car in 2014, including Rally Sweden, which is one of my favourites. I have been working with the team a lot since May and it has been a really fantastic project to be involved in,” Hänninen said.
With the second i20 WRC to be shared throughout 2014, it remains to be seen who will partner Neuville, who finished second in the 2013 WRC driver’s championship, at the season opener in Monte Carlo next year.