Hyundai planning new car for WRC 2025

Despite significant speculation regarding the future direction of WRC technical regulations, Hyundai's building an all-new Rally1 car

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Hyundai Motorsport is planning the build of a new i20 N Rally1 car in time for the start of the 2025 season, according to DirtFish sources.

Those sources have confirmed work on the new car is underway, with budget committed and a plan in place for a replacement for the current Rally1 machine. Such a move is, of course, complicated by the potential for an overhaul of technical regulations and a switch to a Rally2-based World Rally Car – which could render the new Hyundai redundant.

Team principal and president of Hyundai Motorsport Cyril Abiteboul admitted plans were in place for a “very strong development” of the i20 for next season, but wouldn’t confirm it as a ground-up new homologation.

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Asked about the team’s 2025 car, the Frenchman told DirtFish: “It’s a strong development plan of the current car, within the context of the regulation. It’s an i20, it’s a development of the i20 – that’s what we want to do. That’s what we planned for. That’s what we have budgeted for. The business case has been developed and approved by HQ.

“It’s true that what’s going on with the uncertainty [in regulations] right now… uncertainty is never good and clearly uncertainty is putting us in a bit of a delicate situation with the plan.”

Asked directly if it would be a new homologation, Abiteboul said: “I can only tell you again, it’s a development, a very strong development of the current car and there’s nothing more that I can say at this point.

“Right now we are waiting to hear back from the FIA about what is it that 2025 and 2026 are looking like.”

Homologating a new car in the middle of a homologation cycle is something manufacturers rarely do, on cost grounds. The Frankfurt-based team has, however, always feared its current car – which was rushed through the development process after slow budget sign-off – wasn’t and isn’t the ultimate Rally1 build. That is, reportedly, something Hyundai wants to put right next year.

The FIA’s World Rally Championship working group is continuing its deep dive into future technical regulations, with a move to a Rally2 reckoned to be still on the table.

Asked if Hyundai would remain in the WRC if a Rally2 platform was accepted as the base for the new rules, Abiteboul said: “As you can imagine I can’t and don’t want to start applying pressure – it’s difficult to know because it’s a big ‘what if?’

“First and foremost, we welcome the opportunity of discussion. We cannot complain about the support, the situation, the lack of cars, competitors and manufacturers, and on the other side, when someone is engaging and discussing and willing to shake things up, suddenly feel embarrassed.


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“We welcome the opportunity with David Richards and Robert Reid, who have got a huge experience in the sport and look at it from a business and a really high level. If we say we want change; change is never comfortable but we need to understand the purpose and the rationale behind the change and where that change is taking us.

“Again, I don’t want to say that we support or don’t support [the move to Rally2]. We need to understand the picture, not just the move from Rally1 to Rally2 or Rally1-minus or Rally2-plus. There are an awful lot of possibilities and, therefore, it’s very difficult for me – even if I wanted to – I simply could not tell you what’s right and what’s wrong.

“What’s more important is to understand where the rally category and the championship is going as a sport. What is its purpose what’s the rationale for us being in the sport for a long time.

“Where will the sport be in five years, that’s what we need to know. Look at Formula E, I give you this example, when the Gen3 car was coming out, the teams already knew what Gen4 would look like. This is what we need [for the WRC].


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“What I think is very important is that we don’t look at just here and now, we look mid-to-long term. If, to get to the long-term, we need to introduce interim measures like cost reduction measures, we are very much up for it. Even if it is uncomfortable, change can be uncomfortable – but if that’s good for the long-term of the sport, then why not. What we don’t want is some sort of knee-jerk reaction without a long-term rationale. That long-term rationale is what’s been missing for the sport and that is, in my opinion, what is the emergency.”

Late last month, speculation was building of a potential Hyundai departure from the WRC. The news of the 2025 car contradicts those rumors. Abiteboul admitted, current technical regulation discussions considered, Hyundai wants to say in the WRC.

He added: “Maybe this question [of Hyundai’s WRC intentions] kicked off when myself and F-X [Demaison, technical director and former Williams Racing team member] joined Hyundai with our [F1] backgrounds.


Three people who know the score: (l-r) Christian Loriaux, Francois-Xavier Demaison and Cyril Abiteboul 

“The reality is that we are absolutely committed to the sport. It’s a sport in which we have more than 10 years of experience. I’m a firm believer that you only build marketing value and return on your investment if there is consistency in the commitment, continuity and consistency in the marketing message.

“We want to stay. But we also want to understand, and I don’t think this is just true for us, we have to understand where the sport is going on the long-term. We have to understand in particular beyond 2026 and beyond the current homologation cycle. We build a [Rally1] car with a business case for five years, set. Our full intent is to run those cars until end of 2026 as per the regulation. We need to understand where the sport will go beyond that term.

“When our new technical director [Demaison] arrived, we designed a very clear development plan for our car in compliance with the regulation. Now obviously with some form of speculation and discussion with the FIA regarding the homologation cycle and the whole Rally1-Rally2… we need to understand where we are and to what extent we can implement that plan. It’s a big topic and discussions are very young. Without these discussions, we would be simply in the process of implementing the plan we designed last year.”