Josh Buchan left impressed after initial Elantra test
The debut of the Hyundai Elantra N TCR at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst International raises the stakes in the TCR Australia title fight and Josh Buchan is excited by the new package after initial testing.
HMO Customer Racing has completed a number of days testing at Winton as both Buchan and Nathan Morcom shared the duties, while Bailey Sweeny on the Elantra’s maiden outing was in his regular i30 N TCR to complete back-to-back comparison tests.
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“The car was mint!” Buchan remarked describing his first impressions.
“Literally out of the box, it was near enough good to go, a few minor tweaks, then some more in the coming weeks, but all things seemed fine. We just want to do as many preliminary miles as we can, so that we have some peace of mind and we can get a handle on it like the i30s.
“Even in the last year, those i30s have come quite a long way as we kind of got left behind last year a bit and those cars are as good as they’ve ever been. We just want to make sure that we can get the Elantra going.”
A sedan, the Elantra N TCR signals a change of direction for Hyundai and Buchan identified the differences compared to the i30 N TCR hatchback.
“There’s less of a stalled area at the back of the car,” explained Buchan.
“It’s due to the way air flows over the back of the car there’s not as much disturbed air at the rear so inherently it’s more stable, but also the wheelbase contributes quite a bit to that.
“It’s certainly less of a twitchy car in terms of how sensitive it is steering, whether that’s better or not I’m undecided.”
The Elantra N TCR’s arrival at Bathurst comes at a crucial time as Buchan remains in title contention and he hopes the performance of the new model will put the heat on his title rivals.
“We don’t have anything to lose,” Buchan said. “We’ve been the top three or five all year other than shunts or bad luck, we’re always there. We know we’ve got the right people and the right car to do it, so we might as well have an air swing to see if the car will give us anything extra at Bathurst.
“I think if the Elantra proves stronger, it puts more pressure on those guys.”
However, the introduction of the Elantra N TCR doesn’t make the i30 N TCR obsolete as the Balance of Performance formula ensures the model will remain competitive. As demonstrated this season, the i30 N TCR has won races in the hands of HMO Customer Racing’s three drivers, while privateer Luke King has scored multiple podiums in his limited 2022 campaign.
“There’s been a few things,” Buchan revealed. “It’s been 10 one percenters to get the i30 in a spot now where I certainly wouldn’t be mad if I was taking it to Bathurst.
“We get to every circuit and we don’t have a problem with handling. We might be down a little bit in a straight line, we might be a bit overweight because we’ve been going well, but we’ve never had to turn that car on its head. The HMO boys are the last to arrive and first to leave when it comes to set-up, our cars don’t touch the set-up patch all weekend.
“There’s been a little bit of an engineering restructure, I’m working with Rob Benson this year. He’s a little bit of a crazy wizard and he doesn’t mind throwing things at me that are controversial and we’ve been just working left of centre. I think my old Formula Ford days working with Listec developing suspension components with them is paying off.”
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