Rally News

Mexico will help define Hyundai’s WRC development strategy

Abiteboul is confident of Hyundai's prospects after its Acropolis podium lockout in 2022

This weekend marks the first gravel rally of 2023 and the third different surface in as many rounds, following the asphalt of Monte Carlo in January and the snow of Sweden last month.

It is also the third round since former Caterham and Renault Formula 1 boss Abiteboul took over as team principal at Hyundai in January.

Hyundai’s new boss has begun to make changes to the squad, beginning with a focus on improving its internal structure by implementing practices honed from his time working in F1 to improve communication and the decision making process.

Hyundai’s i20 N underwent a significant aero upgrade over the off season, but its development strategy will largely be formed following this weekend’s event in Mexico which Abiteboul anticipates will highlight the car’s strengths and weaknesses.

Hyundai is yet to taste victory this season but has racked up three podiums to date thanks to Thierry Neuville finishing third in Monte Carlo, followed by a double podium in Sweden when Craig Breen finished second ahead of Neuville in third.

“This is the third event and the third type of surface; the calendar is quite handy in that respect so I think after these three events we will get a good picture [of the current package],” Abiteboul told Motorsport.com.

“We saw we had a bit of pace on tarmac in Monte Carlo. I think we would be better if we were going back to that event today; maybe not to the level of Toyota and [winner] Seb [Ogier], but slightly better.

“We were very competitive in Sweden and I think the car was good there. I’m very keen to see how it does here in Mexico.

Abiteboul is confident of Hyundai’s prospects after its Acropolis podium lockout in 2022

Photo by: Romain Thuillier / Hyundai Motorsport

“We have done hopefully what we need to do from a reliability perspective and in terms of software and energy management.

“[The rally] is going to be quite important as it will give us an idea what to expect fro the rest of the season. It will also help us in terms of development strategy for the year.”

Hyundai will be regarded among the favourites to challenge for victory in Mexico after impressing in rough gravel rallies last season.

The South Korean marque appeared to have an edge over its rivals Toyota and M-Sport Ford on the surface after scoring wins in Sardinia and Greece in 2022. The latter witnessed Hyundai’s first podium lockout in the WRC.

This weekend the team will also benefit from an advantageous…

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