2019 was the third year under the current 2017 regulations in the FIA World Rally Championship, rules which both Toyota Gazoo and Hyundai Motorsport had embraced from the start.
2019 brought Toyota their second WRC title in two years (Ott Tanak for drivers in 2019, the manufacturers’ series in 2018) and 2019 brought Hyundai their first, the makes’ series.
Members of the teams enjoyed their success personally, and we collected opinions from some of the leading members of both.
Tanak is the first Estonian to win the title, winner of six of the 13 championship rounds in 2019, saying: “I am really happy the way that we managed to win the title in the end.
"We had to do the job ourselves and nobody gifted us this win.”
Toyota team manager Kaj Lindstrom: “We noticed in 2019 there was a different Tanak to the one we had seen before. He was stronger this year.
"I think it’s maybe the way he approached rallies this year compared to the previous year. He wasn’t trying to bring home wins on every stage, he was more concentrated on winning the world championship itself and it paid off, a big step for him as well.”
Tanak continued: “Like every season we still had quite a few setbacks so we had to stay strong and keep our heads up. We actually managed to overcome our difficulties.
"The beginning of the year was better than last year, but still we had a couple of important retirements later in the season, the worst being Sardinia, I guess, losing victory in the last stage. That was a big setback.
"The team was quite devastated but to come back with wins in Finland and Germany obviously showed that we could get over these kind of difficult situations.
"For sure, it’s not only me, it’s all the team, and you can’t do these things without these people.”
Kaj Lndstrom added: “Unfortunately we also had some technical issues as well.
"It is mentally tough for the driver when something happens and you have technical failures, so it’s not easy to keep your mind together.”
Thierry Neuville was the mainstay of Hyundai’s manufacturers’ challenge.
“Emotions are a bit of a mix of feelings right now, because on one hand we achieved the goal we wanted to achieve this year with the Manufacturers’ Title.
"On the other hand the season was cut short when the final round was cancelled.
"We showed during the season we were clearly leading the manufacturers’ championship from the beginning of the season and never gave away the lead. I am very happy for the team, they really deserved it after all those years in the WRC.
"We started the team from scratch, starting with some difficulties from the beginning, really determined from the very first experience into WRC in 2014 and progressively improved.
"Having very strong team mates as well this year helped a lot and finally we won this manufacturers’ championship. The team really started from nothing, and had to find the good people, start up building the workshop.
"I remember when I started we were 80 people, now we are 220, more or less the minimum we actually need to be competitive. So it was a long process, a big process, but we finally made it.
"I am really excited to be honest, I am really looking forward to the next season.
"Everything in 2019 was given to have another good year and fight for the drivers’ championship. We are going to give it everything again in 2020 as we always do.
"I am surprised however to see Ott decided (to join us), when he was already in a winning car.
"He is really committed but, on the other hand, for us it’s good to see him with us. It shows again the ambitions of Hyundai in the World Rally Championship and shows that Hyundai has the necessary resources to do everything we can do to win both championships.”
Team Director, Andrea Adamo, rounded off Hyundai’s feelings, saying his big challenge had been “to hold the people that prepare the Hyundai models together".
"They had been running these cars now for a long time without a lot of good results. There are people who really worked hard this year, but for different reasons they never achieved titles earlier," he explained.
"So I was hoping the situation would change and we won. I think it represeted the refinement of a product which was already good.
"To win you need the best group of people, the best tools, the best things, and that for me to have the best drivers, and co-drivers is the top option.
"I think that rallying more than any other motorsport is the one where the crew is very, very important. We have seen also this year you need to do the best with what is available if you want to win.”
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