* · Hyundai Motorsport will support drivers in Junior Teams in highly competitive national TCR series this season, supporting Junior Drivers as they build professional motorsport careers
* · South Korean Junui Park and Italian Marco Butti will compete in TCR Italy, while race winning British drivers Bradley Kent and Alex Ley will represent the programme in TCR UK
* · The drivers have already completed test days in Italy, supported by experienced customer teams and driver mentor Gabriele Tarquini, in preparation for the start of their national series.
Alzenau, Germany March 27, 2023 – Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing will support drivers in Junior Teams contesting highly competitive national TCR series this season in order to aid them at the foundation of their professional racing careers with the goal of winning 2023 titles.
The programme is an extension of the existing Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Junior Driver initiative, which has already seen considerable success in the TCR category. German Luca Engstler achieved multiple national titles and a full-time drive in the FIA WTCR – World Touring Car Cup through his participation, whilst Czech Elantra N TCR driver Jáchym Galáš celebrated his a TCR Europe race win in 2022.
For 2023 the focus of the Junior Teams programme will fall on two highly competitive national TCR championships – TCR Italy and TCR UK. Hyundai Motorsport customers have already enjoyed significant success in both series. In Italy, Target Competition have won the teams’ crown for the past two seasons, while drivers Antti Buri and Niels Langeveld lifted the individual title in 2021 and 2022 respectively. The Bolzano-based squad, who have also claimed a TCR Europe title with Hyundai Motorsport cars, will be responsible for running the Junior Team in the series for 2023.
Target Competition will run two Elantra N TCR for a pair of 17-year-old drivers – Junui Park and Marco Butti. It will be South Korean Park’s first season racing in Europe, though he already has an excellent record in his home country. In 2022 he claimed the title in the single-make Avante N Cup and was selected by a panel – including Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Manager Andrea Cisotti and 2018 WTCR winner Gabriele Tarquini – for the opportunity to build a racing career in Europe.
Park will be joined by Italian Marco Butti. Despite his young age, Butti has already become a regular in the TCR ranks – racing in TCR Italy last year, as well as TCR Europe where he scored a collection of top ten finishes. 2023 will be his first season in the Elantra N TCR, having previously driven the i30 N TCR in domestic competition.
In the UK, customers have made Hyundai Motorsport-built cars some of the most successful in the series, with Essex and Kent Motorsport’s Lewis Kent winning the 2020 and 2021 titles with an i30 N TCR. The outfit, with Lewis’ younger brother Bradley, will be one half of the Junior Team line-up on the grid for 2023, entering a Veloster N TCR. Set to start his third season in the championship, Brit Bradley has already scored three race wins in the series, and will now move into the car that his brother took to a pair of victories in 2022.
The other half of the Junior Team line-up will be Daniel James Motorsport driver Alex Ley. Though the 17-year-old British driver missed the first round of the championship in 2022, and was only starting his first season in TCR competition, he became the youngest ever winner of a TCR race in his second weekend in the series. In total he still won three races during the season – the most of any driver on the grid – including an impressive lights-to-flag victory in the July heat at Oulton Park, which also included fastest lap.
For 2023 Ley will stay with the same i30 N TCR he drove last season, but now with the additional year of experience and support of the Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Junior Team programme behind him.
Work for the drivers within the Junior Teams has already begun, with testing in Italy together with highly experienced Hyundai Motorsport customers, working together with 2018 WTCR winner Gabriele Tarquini and the Customer Racing department’s dedicated support engineers.
Further test days are planned during the year ahead, together with opportunities for media and fitness training to help the four drivers build the full range of skills needed to forge a professional racing career.
Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Manager Andrea Cisotti said: “The support we can offer all our customers, and our chosen Junior Drivers in particular, is a vital part of the work of the Customer Racing department. The addition of Junior Team programme adds further to the support we can offer our customers racing in TCR series. From their experiences we know that while both TCR Italy and TCR UK are incredibly competitive, Hyundai Motorsport-built cars have the strength to contend for race wins and championship titles. The additional support we can offer as part of our Junior Teams initiative at the race track and throughout the season should provide the crucial boost to the drivers, not just for 2023, but in their future careers too.”