Hyundai Motorsport has confirmed Estonian WRC driver Ott Tänak will be rejoining the team and driving the i20 for the 2024 season.
As reported by ERR News, rally portal DirtFish announced the move on Monday, leaving just Tänak and Hyundai themselves to give confirmation.
Tänak drove for Hyundai 2020-2022, winning five races for them, after joining the team shortly after winning the 2019 drivers' championship.
After ups and downs with the team, he joined M-Sport Ford, the third top-level competitor team, and has won two races for them this season, most recently in Chile at the weekend, no mean feat given M-Sport is considerably less well funded than the works Hyundai and Toyota teams.
No other team currently competes in the top-tier WRC series after Citroen pulled out several years ago.
While the Estonian and his co-driver and compatriot Martin Järveoja left Hyundai amid dissatisfaction with development there, there have been changes at the top and with the team's set-up.
Tänak said via a Hyundai press release that: "I am excited to re-join Hyundai Motorsport from the 2024 WRC season. Since our paths parted exactly one year ago, the team has been working very hard on the new technical structure. Hyundai Motorsport has a clear vision and target for the near future, and it is something that convinced me to join our forces again."
"I am also looking forward to work with Cyril Abiteboul and François-Xavier Demaison, as their experience and knowledge in motorsport is definitely a big advantage for the whole team."
"Our goal in this new chapter will be nothing less than to win all the three titles, and with the new structure of the team, we have all the tools needed to achieve it. Game on," he added.
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Long-serving Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville (Belgium) remains with the team, bringing team principal Abiteboul the hope that a championship title may finally be within reach.
Welcome back Ott! https://t.co/dQ7imsihxc— Thierry Neuville (@thierryneuville) October 4, 2023
The team won the constructors' championship in 2019 and 2020, but has yet to win the drivers' championship. That has been dominated in recent years by Toyota, the team Tänak won his 2019 drivers' title with.
"Hyundai Motorsport is built to fight for rally wins and championships. We want to be seen as a serious competitor with the tools to get the job done: that means the car, the organization and the driver talent," Abiteboul said.
"Looking at the options for 2024, I started negotiations with Ott, who is attracted by our renewed ambitions and the structure we are building up. We are delighted that he is ready to continue with this unfinished business," he added.
Tänak finished as high as second in the table in 2022 with Hyundai, and third in the Covid-shortened 2020 season.
M-Sport team principal Richard Millener said he was sorry to see the Estonian leaving, Reuters reports.
"A lot of work went into making the dream of getting them back to M-Sport a reality," he said.
"Unfortunately, sometimes things just don't go as you hoped, and their decision to leave the team at the end of the season is a consequence we need to accept."
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Siim Boikov
Source: ERR Sport, Hyundai Motorsport, Dirtfish, Reuters