The 2023 edition of the Nürburgring 24 Hours is just around the corner, May 18th – 21st, and Hyundai Motorsport is fielding a pair of Elantra N TCR’s to defend their class title.
This two car effort will bring together some of the most successful Elantra N TCR drivers from around the world. In one car will be last years winning lineup of Mikel Azcona, Marc Basseng and Manuel Lauck and in the other is a quad of drivers that are making their Nürburgring 24 Hours debut, but have a wealth of knowledge and experience in endurance racing.
Mason Filippi, Harry Gottsacker, Taylor Hagler and Michael Lewis hail from the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge where they drive for the highly successful, and Hyundai Motorsports backed, Bryan Herta Autosport team. Hagler and Lewis are two time champions in the series TCR class, winning in 2021 and 2022 and taking 13 podiums from 20 races over the last two years. The entire team in fact has firmly established themselves at the top of the series after sweeping the drivers’, teams’ and manufacturers’ titles in each of the last three seasons. As for Filippi and Gottsacker, two rounds into the 2023 season, they sit second and third respectively, in the points.
Both teams completed their on track prep in Hyundai Motorsports style at the N24 Qualifiers on April 22nd – 23rd, finished 1-2 in each of the weekend’s two races. Lauck and Basseng were victorious in the two hour into-the-darkness race on Saturday and the four hour race on Sunday while the US crewed car finished runner up in both, Filippi, Gottsacker and Lewis gaining their first bits of experience of the Nordschleife in the faster car.
For Hyundai, continuing to compete at the uniquely challenging Norschleife makes all the sense in the world. They maintain a technical center within sight of the track, rigorous road car testing and racing success and the Nürburgring are central to the identity of the high performance N brand which Hyundai Motorsports represents on track. The N name itself was jointly drawn from Hyundai’s global R&D center in Namyang, South Korea and the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Supporting these links even further, Hyundai Motorsports has been a fixture in the TCR category of the endurance race since the Hyundai i30 N TCR was introduced in 2018. All three of the cars built for the category in Alzenau, Germany, the i30 N TCR, Veloster N TCR and Elantra N TCR, have taken podiums in the famously challenging race. The Elantra N TCR and i30 N TCR finished a very impressive 1-2 in 2021, before repeating last year with the Elantra N TCR lineup enjoying a nearly perfect race. They completed 145 laps of the 25km track and finished 18th overall to be one of the top runners outside of the premier SP9 class.
Sean Kim, Hyundai Motorsport President, had this to say, “The Nürburgring 24 Hours is a hugely important event, not just for Hyundai Motorsport, but for Hyundai as a global manufacturer. The N brand has very string ties with the Nürburgring Nordschleife through the testing of the road cars on the track. Our history of success in the 24 Hours event further reinforces the excellent reputation of Hyundai’s high-performance designs. Last year’s 18th overall and 1-2 in class has set the bar very high for this year, as we aim to win the TCR class for the third consecutive season, but with the crews we have in both Hyundai Motorsport cars we can achieve this. The weekend is always busy, and with the addition of the four American drivers this year’s race will be one of the biggest ever for Hyundai Motorsport and Hyundai markets around the world.”
As well as the pair of TCR entries, Hyundai will also be represented by a pair of production-based Hyundai i30 Fastback N. Entered under the Hyundai Driving Experience name, the car made its debut in 2022, and has also been seen in the first two rounds of the NLS championship this season, where it has played a vital role in allowing the American quartet to gain the permit necessary to join the TCR class.
“The Nürburgring 24 Hours remains one of the toughest races in the world, so it is the perfect place to show the Hyundai Elantra N TCR’s blend of performance and reliability,” Andrea Cisotti, Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Manager, said. “We are in the position of defending our wins from the last two seasons, so we know the pressure will be on us. However, with the driver line-ups we have in both TCR cars we have everything in place for repeat success. Mikel, Marc and Manuel showed beyond a doubt last year how strong they are as a team, and our four American drivers are very experienced, showing good pace in preparation for their N24 debut, including the two second places at the N24 Qualifiers. With the support of the Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing department I am sure we can add another winning chapter to the history of Hyundai at the Nürburgring.”
The Nürburgring 24 Hours is one of the biggest motorsports events of the year, it regularly attracts nearly 150 teams and more than 200,000 fans during the race weekend. The 25km circuit places unique demands on both car and driver, heralding it as one of the toughest motorsport events in the world, and both fans and teams will be on the edge of their seats the entire weekend.