It had to happen. The biggest surprise is that it took so long. Francois-Xavier Demaison will return to the World Rally Championship with Hyundai Motorsport.
Demaison, one of the sport’s most decorated technical directors, is expected to start work with the Alzenau based team in the coming weeks.
He will work alongside fellow engineering giant of the sport Christian Loriaux.
DirtFish understands Demaison will take the title of technical director, while Loriaux works as WRC technical manager.
And while Demaison’s role will have a significant focus on the WRC, Hyundai has also confirmed that he will support its president Sean Kim in determining and building its future motorsport program.
After a complicated start to the hybrid generation of Rally1 cars at the top of last season, Hyundai Motorsport has made good progress – catching many by surprise at the pace of development via homologation procedures – in the middle of last year.
Five rounds into 2023, however, and the Hyundai is the only one of the three teams yet to register a victory.
Demaison brings an exceptional record with him to Hyundai. It was the Frenchman who made Volkswagen’s Polo R WRC fly to total domination of all World Rally Championship titles between 2013 and 2016.
As well as success with Peugeot and Subaru in rallying, Demaison engineered VW’s demolition of the Pikes Peak Hillclimb record with the all-electric I.D. R.
He moved out of rallying to join Williams F1 team as technical director, working alongside former Volkswagen Motorsport director Jost Capito, but departed the British team after two seasons at the end of last year.
Speaking about his new role, Demaison said: “I am tremendously excited to start this new role with Hyundai Motorsport.
“It is clear that Hyundai has fantastic potential in the motorsport realm, both in existing endeavours and also looking to future initiatives, especially electric motorsport programmes.
“My remit is to enhance and grow the capabilities of the Hyundai Motorsport operation to be one of the best globally.
“I relish this challenge and look forward to working with the personnel who have already achieved great things in WRC and their customer racing programmes.”
Hyundai team principal Cyril Abiteboul added that it quickly became clear after joining the team that there was a link missing between the technical departments and that Demaison is the perfect person to fill the role.
“After taking some time to immerse myself in the company and its activities, it became clear to me that we needed a unifying presence within our technical departments,” Abiteboul explained.
“Having François-Xavier onboard as technical director is an incredibly exciting opportunity to amplify and grow Hyundai’s motorsport programmes.
“As well as improving our current competitiveness, FX will help us to define the future of the company by bringing in improvements to our facilities to transform our capabilities to that of a top-tier motorsport organisation.
“He knows what it takes to not only win, but also dominate in motorsport, and it is that experience that we need to channel our efforts and win championship titles in the years to come.”