Hyundai Motor Company has completed the final selection of the ‘Korean Junior Driver Program’. These two are part of the program - Jun-ui Park, 17, from Solite Indigo Racing, who won the season in the Hyundai N Festival N1 Avante N(Elantra N) Cup Pro Class, and Jun-sung Park, 27, from the same team who placed second. The two drivers will make their debut in an international race hosted by Hyundai Motor Company and compete against world-class racers.
Since last year, Hyundai Motor Company has conducted a Korean Junior Driver Program for eight pro drivers participating in the Hyundai N Festival to give young drivers a chance to compete on the international stage. The automaker uses various methods such as in-depth evaluation and interviews using various data collected at the 2022 Hyundai N Festival Race.
Last September, the inaugural WTCR champion, Gabriele Tarquini, and HMSG’s chief TCR development engineer visited Korea and met the eight drivers in person. The automaker evaluated the potential and possibility of its drivers, and at the same time provided a special experience for young drivers to learn from the masters of motorsport.
The Hyundai N Festival is the largest one-make race in Korea and a motorsport festival where both amateurs and professionals can join. For your information, in the one-make race, competitors compete for pure driving skills under the same conditions, as not only the race car, but also the modified specifications are all the same. Also, since it does not allow out-of-regulation tuning, you can participate at a relatively low cost, hence attractive to amateurs.
At the Hyundai N Festival, competitors can step up from circuit driving 101; This makes the race very special where anyone can pursue their dreams to become a professional racer. The N1 class Avante N Cup, in which eight junior drivers participate, is the top class of the Hyundai N Festival and is attended not only by professional drivers but also by those who want to get more involved in motorsport.
In particular, the N1 class Avante N Cup race car is Korea’s first ‘Factory Tune One Make’ race car, which was directly tuned by Hyundai Motor Company only for circuit driving. Although it uses the drivetrain of the regular model, it boasts excellent driving performance thanks to the reinforcement and refinement of various parts for the race. For this reason, junior drivers who have proven their skills with the Avante N Cup race car can advance to overseas stages.
Hyundai Motor Company plans to further support the two drivers selected for the Korean Junior Driver Program to thrive on the international stage. Jun-ui Park participates in the TCR (Touring Car Championship) Italy for a full season this April to October. To this end, Hyundai Motor Company signed a sponsorship agreement with Hyundai Sungwoo Solite and Hankook Tire, and plans to support together.
TCR Italia is a race organized by the Italian Motorsport Federation (ACI SPORT, Automobile Club d’Italia) in accordance with the TCR regulations specified by the FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile). The TCR regulations focus on competing with mass-produced race cars, so the ability of manufacturers is considered very important; the limited scope of modification made the basic specs even more important.
Hyundai is one of the strong players in TCR Italy; Teams that chose the Avante N TCR (Elantra N TCR) are consistently getting good results. Last year, Niels Langeveld from the Target Competition team marked 2nd place, and Kevin Ceccon from the Hyundai N Team Aggressive Italia team finished 3rd. Jun-ui Park already has a good car, now all he has to do is adapt to the local race as best he can.The TCR Italia will have its opening race at the Imola circuit on April 21st and a total of six races until October 27th.
Jun-sung Park will make his debut as a Korean delegate at the Nürburgring 24 Hours from May 20th to 21st. The Nürburgring 24 Hours is one of the historic races that started in 1970. Competitors race for 24 hours on the Nordschleife course of the Nürburgring, which is notorious for its extreme environment, with a length of more than 20 km per lap, a height difference of up to 300 m, and 170 corners. This has come to be called a grueling race that tests the limits of both the drivers and the cars.
Hyundai has consistently challenged the Nürburgring 24 Hours, which is considered successful just by completing the race. It continued the path of a high-performance brand polishing its skills in motorsport, which nurtured the N brand. Hyundai is one of the champions of the Nürburgring 24 Hours. With the Avante N TCR (Elantra N TCR) and i30 N TCR in the TCR class, it won the championship for two consecutive years in 2021 and 2022. Many wonder if they can beat their challengers again this year.
In order for Korean motorsports to develop, Korean drivers need a variety of experiences in overseas stages. That’s why Hyundai is hosting a Korean Junior Driver Program. However, bringing an audience is also an important issue for domestic motorsports. They need public attention by promoting the fun of motorsport.
While hosting the 2022 Hyundai N Festival, Hyundai Motor Company released a video on its YouTube channel, called ‘HNF in-depth’, about the highest N1 Avante N Cup class. The show went viral, detailing their fierce competition every round, just like Netflix’s ‘Drive to Survive’ about F1. In particular, the charm of this show was that even those who had no knowledge of motorsports could enjoy it.
Hyundai Motor Company is planning to go one step further and release the documentary film ‘Hyundai N Festival In-Depth The Movie’ through the OTT platform in the second half of this year. It is to deliver the joy of motor sports to a little more people. Its premiere was held on March 9, and it is undergoing final revisions through the feedback from it. In addition to the OTT release, the movie is also planned to be submitted for other film festivals.
Till Wartenberg, vice president of Hyundai N Brand & Motorsport, announced the final driver list for the Korean Junior Driver Program and said: “This program is to help develop motorsport in the country and get young drivers to compete in international races. Hyundai Motor Company will continue to make efforts in various ways to contribute to the development of Korean motor sports culture.”
Hyundai Motor Company plans to systematically operate a Korean junior driver program to discover young and talented drivers every year. Just as Korean football pioneers such as Cha Bum-geun and Park Ji-sung from Europe made Son Heung-min, the young Korean drivers with the experience and know-how gained from European races could also help Korean motorsport industry to nurture world-class racers; Seeing Hyundai’s active support, many imagine the day when Korean racers conquer the world stage.
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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