Bryan Herta Autosport is set to give the Hyundai Elantra N TCR its global race debut in Friday’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season-opener at Daytona International Speedway, as part of a two-car full season effort for the new car.
It is the third Hyundai model that BHA has brought to the U.S. TCR market in recent years, beginning with the Hyundai i30 N TCR before transitioning to the Veloster N TCR and now the new Elantra model.
Team owner Bryan Herta said unlike the transition from the i30 N to the Veloster, the Elantra marks a major break from previous Hyundai TCR offerings.
“This is an all-new car,” Herta said. “The Veloster had a lot in common with its predecessor the i30 N. This is a complete departure. Other than the gearbox, the clutch, the wheels, a couple of parts, it is completely a new car.
“It’s a new learning process for us just getting it on track. The cars just arrived a couple of weeks ago so they’ve been prepped and really our first laps in anger [happened at the Roar].
“I’m excited about the potential for the car.
“Obviously, Hyundai’s taken what they’ve learned from the Veloster and we believe that’s been incorporated into the Elantra N TCR car, but also it’s got a different profile.
“It’s got a low trunk line instead of the profile of the Veloster. I think that there could be advantages in that. We’re looking forward to understanding the car and getting the potential out of it that we know is there.”
Herta said the car arrived race ready after a rigorous test and development program in Europe. Now the focus is on fine tuning the car for the demands of the Pilot Challenge series.
“The car has done a pretty large number of kilometers of testing in Europe already so it’s gone through what you’d call the development cycle already,” he said.
“But now it’s different because when they’re developing it they’re changing suspension, changing other things, but now this is the final homologated configuration.
“Now, we’re just maximizing or learning about the little details. The more miles you run on a car the more you learn.
“It’s different over here. We’re on different tires, different fuel than they run in Europe and that can affect things so we still have a learning curve to go through but we’re confident with the car.
“We’re still accumulating spares. You never have enough but we certainly don’t have everything we want just yet, but we have everything we need at the moment.”
The defending TCR champion squad is also campaigning two of the previous-generation Velosters, one of which is under the Michael Johnson Racing moniker while the other is listed as a BHA entry, all while supporting the rest of the Hyundais in the paddock as the North American distributor of the cars.
“We’ve got various levels of support but we’re trying to create best-in-class track support,” said Herta.
“In addition to bringing parts for all of the teams, we provide all of our setup information, all of our data after every session from our cars. Video, track data, we give that to all the teams so they have access to all of that.
“We also have a couple of our engineers embedded into a couple of the teams engineering cars for them as well.
“We’re proud of the level of support we can offer and take advantage of the experience we now have with the car and transfer that directly into new teams where they can show up and on Day 1 they know what we know already.”