Hyundai sacks team director Nandon

Hyundai sacks team director NandonFrom Chris Biewer [ 02/01/2019 ].
Click to read all other WRC WRC News.

Hyundai announced today that WRC team director Michel Nandan will leave the company and is replaced by Customer Racing Manager Andrea Adamo. Andrea Adama will continue to manage the customer racing programmes with the i20 R5 as well as the i30 N TCR. He will be overall team director on top of his other commitments. Hyundai says "The company has parted ways with Team Principal Michel Nandan" as well as Hyundai "wishes him all the best for the future".

This does seem a surprising move, though. Although Hyundai does not use the term "sacked" or anything similar, it doesn't appear that Michel Nandan has left for he has a new challenge lined up.

Some sources say Nandan left - or was made to leave - for the immense pressure of the job. In this context it seems strange that Adamo, who is a relative newcomer to the rally world, is to take over Nandan's job in addition of his responsibilities so far, being in charge of the i20 WRC program, the i20 R5 and the i30 N touring car all at once!

Again we find several sources who say that it was pressure of Hyundai Korea management to change the WRC team management following poor results, although this was denied by the team only a couple of weeks ago. (But then, Hyundai denied being in talks with Loeb only 2 days before his signing was announced.) This may sound like a typical Asian method. When Toyota's F1 team stayed without success, they were quick to repeatedly change management. More strikingly, similar happened at Suzuki's very poor SX4 WRC program back in 2008. Although the SX4 was visibly the wrong base for a rally car, Suzuki wasn't hving any of that and poor results were simply blamed on team management. First team director Monster Tajima was sacked, and when the SX4 WRC was not any faster without Tajima, the next personal to be axed was team manager Michel Nandan!

Still, was the Hyundai i20 WRC program really that bad until now? Indeed Hyundai collected only 10 victories since its debut in Monte Carlo 2014. That is 10 victories only in 5 seasons. Even often criticised Citroen managed 6 WRC victories in the same time period, despite not taking part in a full scale program from 2014 to 2016.

And Hyundai was runners up in the manufacturers title battle three years in a row now! Which is going rather strong in what are probably the WRCs most competitive years in history! Still, nothing but a title is obviously good enough for Hyundai, so Korea wanted to see personal consequences. At least this is what it tastes like.

Michel Nandan: Is he really to blame? Indeed Michel Nandan had a most amazing career in WRC as team engineer and team director. It was Michel Nandan who made the Toyota Corolla WRC one of the most successful rally cars Toyota ever had. Next Michel Nandan was absolutely instrumental in turning the Peugeot 206 WRC the car to dominate the World Championship in the early 2000s! With titles for Toyota in 1999 and Peugeot in 2000, 2001 & 2002, Nandan was involved in 4 manufacturer World Championship titles in the trot! At Hyundai Nandan organised the creation of the new team base in Alzenau, Germany and the genius signing of Seb Loeb as a Hyundai driver for 2019 and 2020 still happened under Nandan's reign.

Andrea Adamo: When I say above Adamo is a relative newcomer to the rally world, he made however a name for himself as chief designer of the Honda Civic WTCC touring car, turning Honda into the touring car manufacturers World Champions in 2013.