Hyundai may have been victorious in Finland, but don’t be fooled. It doesn’t expect to suddenly be mounting a consistent challenge to Kalle Rovanperä and Toyota on every round here on in.
That’s not the focus.
The real eyes are on 2023.
Ever since the new Rally1 era got underway, Hyundai has been on the back foot. It was late completing the car and then to compound matters further it was plagued by a host of reliability issues.
But there have been glimmers of hope.
A double podium in Croatia and an Ott Tänak win in Italy coupled with his second win of the season last weekend in Finland has shown it has a serious car in the right conditions and the right hands.
But Hyundai deputy team director Julien Moncet isn’t getting carried away and has confirmed that the team’s main focus is already on next year.
“I think for the championship and so on, I discuss again with the top management during the weekend, the target is really to prepare for 2023,” Moncet explained to DirtFish.
“I explained many times, the car this year and the car next year will be basically the same. It’s just an evolution because the car is homologated for three years.
“So we can do upgrades, updates, but step by step.
“So all that we do now will have an effect in one month, in one year and so on. So we cannot stop the development.
“It’s not like last year where we had a completely new regulations and we could say we stop the current car and go from there. No, now it’s an ongoing process. So we cannot stop.
“But we focus for sure more on performance and development even more now that we have hopefully sorted out all our reliability issues and target is to come back stronger and win next year.”
Stopping development entirely this year would be professionally suicidal for Hyundai. There’s no way it can do that. But switching focus to next year isn’t a bad idea either.
There will be critics questioning why Hyundai doesn’t rush through updates as soon as possible given – as Moncet says – the cars will be largely the same. But in doing so, it can make mistakes and bring updates that either don’t work as expected or don’t unleash their full potential right from the off.
Hyundai already knows where its weaknesses lie and it wants to ensure that when the upgrades are introduced, they work first time, and propel the car permanently back into Toyota’s orbit.
“I mean our plan is already defined. It was already defined the last week,” said Moncet.
“We know we still have this pre-event test for every rally.
“They are in the regulations and we have our development tests which are already defined.
“So we think we know where our car is missing a bit of performance and we focus on these items to have them next year, possibly Monte Carlo.”