Abiteboul sets Hyundai win target for 2024

Hyundai's team principal wants the team to win five or six rallies next season


In the World Rally Championship, numbers don’t lie.

Team bosses may try to explain poor performances, and fans may debate why one driver’s championship win may be worth more than another’s. But in the cold light of day, the facts remain the facts, and those facts are used to judge success and failure.

For Hyundai’s 2023 WRC campaign, one fact stands out.

In a year where the South Korean brand was supposed to make a step forward, it only recorded two victories. That’s three less than in 2022, a year deemed so bad by driver Ott Tänak that he decided to quit the team, and the least Hyundai has won in a season since way back in 2016.

Those numbers don’t look good.

However Thierry Neuville, who took both Hyundai’s victories in 2023, doesn’t think the facts tell the full story.

“What is for sure is that this year felt quite comfortable in the car and we made some progress on the performance side,” the Belgian explained to DirtFish.

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“Maybe not enough, but still I felt like on many occasions I was capable of fighting for podiums and victories, such as would have been the case [in Japan, before Friday’s crash].

“So there are a couple of good points to take into next season. Somehow little issues and problems to solve.

“But I definitely rate my season quite high because we have been eight times on the podium, despite a couple of technical issues, despite the disqualification I took for everybody, for all the other drivers as well in Kenya, I keep going ahead and that’s it.”

So maybe the numbers don’t matter so much to Hyundai after all?

Well if that’s the case, then nobody told team principal Cyril Abiteboul.

The outspoken Frenchman sent us hunting for our calculators with his claim that his team could have scored a whopping 200 points more last season, although he admitted that he might be exaggerating a touch.

But when it comes to setting Hyundai’s targets for next year, he certainly isn’t overstating his ambition.

“We want to have more wins,” Abiteboul stated. “I don’t want to talk about championships just yet, I think it’s a bit too early.

“We need to understand also what the dynamic is with [all] our competitors will be, it’s a bit difficult to make statements when you don’t know what the competition is looking like [with M-Sport yet to announce their lineup].

“But for sure one thing we want to do is have more wins. At the end of the season, we have two wins this year.

“I’d like to say that we’ll have five or six wins next year.”

Words:James Bowen