Every new Hyundai sold in Australia is covered by a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and lifetime service plan, with costs ranging from around $150 to $300 per service. But what happens when that new Hyundai is a WRC World Rally Car?
To find out more about how service and WRC works, we’re here at Rally Australia – the 10th round of this year’s World Rally Championship – with Hyundai Motorsport Team Manager Alain Penasse.
CA: Can you explain a little about how WRC service works and why it's so unique?
AP: There are three different versions of service in WRC. In the morning we get 15 minutes to prepare the car for the day. At lunchtime we get 30 minutes to repair it after the morning section and to change some parts if necessary for the afternoon loop. And in the evening we get 45 minutes to refresh the whole car to go again for the next day. It goes very quickly. Mechanics are really focused on the job. They have a good briefing before and then they start the job… and of course, they do it a lot quicker than at a normal Hyundai dealership.
CA: How many mechanics are assigned to each car?
AP: You have in fact one engineer and five mechanics per car, who have to do the job in this small time frame.
CA: Given your team is based in Germany and you’ve got mechanics from all over the world who speak different languages, how does that affect the team and the service?
AP: We have our base in Germany but the official team language is English. We have 26 nationalities in Hyundai Motorsport, so they're all taught the same language otherwise it goes wrong.
CA: Does that always go smoothly, or are there sometimes communication breakdowns?
AP: No, they work smoothly together in short codes and everybody knows what to expect from the other one, so no problems on that side.
CA: How strict are the time penalties associated with service?
AP: So the five mechanics in fact they have all arm bands and only these mechanics can touch the car, there are other mechanics who can give a hand by bringing some parts to the battle field but, ok, if you are late and you are one minute late, you get a 10-second penalty.
CA: How long does it take to change certain elements on the car?
AP: Of course the car is made that everything can be swapped in the 30-minute service. So a gearbox change would take about 20 minutes, so there is 10 minutes spare to do some other things and they are very well trained about it so everything is ready when the car comes into the bay and they start the job and most of the time they get it done before the end of the service.
CA: In Australia most new-car services range in cost from around $150-$300 per service, what sort of costs are attached to each WRC service or an entire WRC round?
AP: It all depends on what state the car is brought back by the driver. If nothing is to do, it costs even less than in a normal dealership - we only change the tyres and we put fuel in it. But if we have some parts that have to be changed, then the prices of the parts, of course, are more expensive than in a normal dealership.
CA: Thank you for your time and for taking us through what's involved with WRC.