British stars Gus Greensmith, Chris Ingram and Tom Cave have been selected as part of Hyundai Motorsport’s development programme for this week.
The initiative, revealed by Motorsport News last month, will offer one driver a 2018 programme of WRC2 events in a factory-prepared Hyundai i20 R5. As well as the Brits, 14 other young drivers took part in the initial interview panel on Tuesday this week. Eight of those 17 will be selected to test the i20 R5 on gravel and asphalt next month.
Given his experience of the i20 R5, Cave is understood to be among the favourites to progress to the next level. The Welshman admitted, however, that the invitation to the process had taken him by surprise.
“I must admit, I didn’t see this one coming,” said Cave. “I know that Hyundai has had its eyes on me since the end of last year when I was competing against Elfyn [Evans] in the BRC. I think they saw credit in that, even though, Elfyn was on another level we were just able to keep up with him in places. We’ve been on the radar and they have tried to give me opportunities in the car, like me doing the Pirelli [Rally] with them.
“I’m thrilled, to be honest. I’m treating the first part like a job interview, but it’s all eyes on September.”
Greensmith and Ingram declined to comment on the process when contacted by MN.
Hyundai team principal Michel Nandan admitted he was looking forward to working through the process, saying: “We are excited to begin our search for a future WRC star. There is so much untapped talent; we want to help nurture the stars of tomorrow. We will put initial candidates through the ultimate assessment to identify the best on the market. The winning crew will be announced later in the year with a comprehensive itinerary planned for 2018.”
The R5 car will be run by a satellite team outside of Hyundai Motorsport, but MN understands there’s a strong chance the winning driver will be taken onto Hyundai’s test team for possible endurance and shakedown running in the World Rally Car as well.