It was a historic day at Daytona International Raceway as Hyundai introduced the world to two new racecars and scored their first podium at the “World Center of Racing.”
Prior to the start of the famed Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, Hyundai Motorsports Group introduced the Veloster ETCR, the first battery-powered Electric Touring Car Racer. Based on the road-going Veloster N, the car is designed specifically for the new ETCR category and stunned the IMSA paddock and Daytona race fans as it zipped through the 3.56 mile “Roval” featuring the high banks of Daytona with a quiet, yet exhilarating buzz.
Moments later, the all-new Elantra N TCR took the green flag for the first time ever, making its racing debut at the series opener for the 2021 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge (IMPC). Both the #33 and the #98 Elantra N TCR cars finished the grueling 4-hour endurance challenge, completing 370 unforgiving miles, taking the checkered flag inside the top-ten; finishing sixth and ninth respectively. An impressive feat for the debut of the brand-new race car, which is the racing version of the Hyundai Elantra, recently named 2021 North American Car of The Year.
The back-to-back championship-winning Hyundai Veloster N TCR entries multiplied in the IMPC this season. Six Hyundai Veloster N TCR’s started the race at Daytona. Inside the final hour, the arm wrestle for Hyundai’s first podium finish came down to a battle between the #77 Bryan Herta Autosport (BHA) entry of Taylor Hagler and Michael Lewis and the #54 Universal Coating Veloster N TCR of Michael Johnson and Stephen Simpson. Hagler and Johnson started the race and handed over healthy racecars to Lewis and Simpson who took the battle to the final lap. Lewis took the race lead on lap 78 with fellow Hyundai driver Mason Filippi in second and Simpson in fifth. It was a Hyundai 1,2,3 with Lewis on top, followed by Filippi and Simpson. Lewis and Filippi pitted for their final stop with 20 laps to go; Simpson and team made theirs on lap 93. With 11 laps to go and fresh tires the trio battled – Lewis and Simpson diced back and forth fighting for the podium position. Filippi remained in reach of the battle just behind in fifth. It was Simpson who made the final move on the last lap and led the parade of Hyundai cars over the finish line in third, fourth (#77 Lewis), fifth (#51 Filippi), sixth (#33 Wilkins) and ninth (#98 Chase).