Bryan Herta Autosport is accustomed to letting its fleet of Hyundai Veloster TCR Ns do the talking in IMSA’s Michelin Pilot Challenge. Resting on an ominous pile of trophies and championships with the popular TCR model was never in BHA’s plans, however, which led to the new Hyundai Elantra TCR N being introduced in January at Daytona alongside the proven Veloster.
Although the opening rounds weren’t particularly favorable for the new chassis, rapid development led by BHA technical director David Brown and the South Korean auto manufacturer helped the Elantra coupe capture its first victory last weekend on the twisting Mid-Ohio road course.
Owing to the radical differences between the compact two-door Veloster and the larger four-door Elantra, the breakthrough win so early in the season was especially rewarding for all involved.
“Trying to think about how many how many common parts there are, I think the fuel cell is the same, and the gearbox is the same, and the race seat is the same, but everything else is different,” Brown told RACER. “It’s a truly a new car. It even has a different BOP (Balance of Performance) from the Veloster.
“Mid-Ohio really is a pretty good track for the Hyundais, and it was a good opportunity for us to shine. We got pretty well trounced in Daytona because we just didn’t have the straight-line performance, and Sebring is also a power circuit, so we didn’t do particularly well there. But Mid-Ohio allowed us to demonstrate the car’s ability on a track which is more suited to it. So we were glad to take advantage of that and win the race.”
Starting third, BHA’s Parker Chase and Ryan Norman delivered the win in the No. 98 Elantra TCR N, and even with the victory in hand, Brown’s big takeaway from the weekend involves learning more about the machine.
“It’s still a very new car for us, and starting with the front of the car, the aero is obviously quite different in terms of its properties to the Veloster,” he said. “We are continuing to build the aero data for the Elantra, and you’d have to say if you put one next to the other, they look very different in terms of the dimensions for the Elantra.
“We have different Michelin tires this year as well, for both cars. The suspension layout is similar in concept, but not the same, so there’s education there for us. It’s got a different wheelbase, and the track is different. Everything that we can adjust is slightly different on the car, and we run we run different setups; you cannot take a Veloster setup and toss it in the general direction of Elantra and go well. So, we’ve had to do development of the setup here at IMSA tests and during most race meetings as well, quite honestly.”
It’s win number one for the Elantra against umpteen trips to victory lane for the Veloster; adding more wins for the new model is the next order of business and, possibly, expanding the number of Elantras in TCR in the coming years.
“Well, you’d have to say there are plenty of competitive Velosters out there—six—and all of which are capable of running really well and have proven themselves to be competitive,” Brown added. “So, it’s not for nothing that we’ve got nearly half the field in IMSA’s TCR class, and I’m quite happy if either car wins. If it says Hyundai on it, and we’re winning races and winning championships, then, you know, we’re being successful. I think that’s the way that we should be looking at it.”