Wickens Joins as New Member of Hyundai Team
Robert Wickens joins fellow Canadian champion Mark Wilkins to co-drive the #33 Elantra N TCR race car in 2022 IMPC. He was signed by Hyundai Motor North America and Bryan Herta Autosport (BHA), who are Three-time International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Michelin Pilot Challenge (IMPC) Champions.
According to Bryan Herta, President of BHA:
It was a huge day for the team and the fans of Wickens. After the accident, the team followed along with the rehabilitation and was amazed at his dedication and determination. Bryan also thanked Hyundai for their support and for giving Robert the opportunity to return to where he belongs.
The BHA #54 Hyundai Veloster N TCR was successfully evaluated by Robert in May 2021 using hand controls. He was driving a race car after almost 989 days of rehabilitation due to an IndyCar accident that made him paralyzed in 2018.
A lot of nights he spent thinking and dreaming of this opportunity and now it is becoming a reality with the support of Hyundai and Bryan Herta. Robert Wickens is more enthusiastic to compete for the win than he was before the accident. He is also looking forward to integrating himself with the entire Bryan Herta Autosport team and finally riding the Hyundai Elantra N TCR for the first time.
The former Formula One test driver, Robert Wickens, took the IndyCar scene by storm as a beginner in 2018. He scored four podium finishes and earned the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year honor in his first 12 IndyCar races in 2018 and also won the pole position and led all but two laps in his first Indy race. But his life was changed in the 13th race of his outstanding rookie IndyCar season. Unfortunately, on lap 7 at Pocono Raceway, he met with an accident, where he suffered a neck fracture, spinal cord injury, tibia and fibula fractures to both legs and hands, and thoracic spinal fracture. Wicken’s determination and dedication led to victorious breakthroughs in his persistent regimes of rehabilitation and therapy. Many innovative technology and treatment methods are developed for the spinal cord injury community by the team of therapists and trainers supporting Robert Wickens.
BHA Technical Director David Brown and Development Technician Jonathan Gormley designed a customized hand-control system that has been fitted in the #33 Hyundai Elantra N TCR. The Elantra is specifically tailored with a system featuring a series of rods connecting a custom metal ring to the brake pedal. The brake can be activated by pulling the ring attached behind the steering wheel with fingers. The driver can accelerate, shift and make steering inputs with the help of two linked throttle paddles and shift paddles attached behind the steering wheel. The hand throttle in the system is automatically deactivated when Mark Wilkins takes over the cockpit in pitstops. Wilkins will use traditional pedals for accelerating and applying brakes.
Whitens and Wilkins are part of the 2022 BHA driver lineup featuring six Elantra N TCR entries. They are competing for Hyundai’s third straight manufacturer title and defending the team’s trifecta series titles. The 2022 season will kick off at Daytona International Speedway on January 21-23 with the opening test days, the “Roar Before the Rolex 24,”. The BMW Endurance Challenge which is round one of the 2022 IMPC season will take place the following weekend. The challenge is a four-hour race during the Rolex 24 hours on January 28, Friday at the Daytona race.