Why Hyundai won’t ever give up on 2023

For more than one reason, it makes sense to focus on catching Rovanperä and Toyota for the rest of this WRC campaign

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As the World Rally Championship’s finest continue their preparations for the second half of the season, there’s plenty still to play for.

Kalle Rovanperä has made a bit of a break for it in the drivers’ championship, but his 41-point lead is far from insurmountable.

And Toyota’s lead in the manufacturers’ race is similarly insecure, standing at just 48 points.

With that said though, it’s Hyundai that is on the back foot as things stand in both championships.


If its deficit to Rovanperä and Toyota grows over the forthcoming rounds in Estonia and Finland, it could then face a bit of a mountain to climb to bring the titles to Alzenau.

But there’s zero chance of Hyundai giving up on 2023 and switching its attention to next year instead.

That would go against any competitive instinct, but more pertinently any and all development work it can do this season will directly benefit its 2024 season too.

“Things can change still fairly quickly, so no no,” said team principal Cyril Abiteboul when asked if Hyundai would start thinking about winning next year’s titles instead.

“Our eyes are still very much on this year’s championship and anyway frankly there is no need for any form of trade-off this year vs next year, it doesn’t work like that.

“It works like that in other disciplines which I will not mention, but here we know that we are in a homologation cycle of five years, so anything that we can do this year will profit next year.

“So let’s focus about this year, let’s focus on the short term and let’s not think about what the car will be in five years from now.

“Clearly also there are some limitations with the WRC system so we also need to be smart and find ways to improve what we have and address the issues that we have, without constantly referring to [the homologation] joker system or long-term opportunity.”

Anything that we can do this year will profit next year; let's not think about what the car will be in five years from now Cyril Abiteboul, Hyundai team principal

Thierry Neuville is Hyundai’s hope in the drivers’ championship, but following his disqualification from Safari Rally Kenya he is now 47 points down on the leader.

He’s aware his hopes of becoming world champion in 2023 will likely come down to how he performs on two high-speed events he’s not particularly fond of in Estonia and Finland.

Speaking before his disqualification, Neuville told DirtFish he ‘didn’t know’ what he could do to get his championship back on track.

“I’m going to give it my all again and we are going to find out,” he said.

“But for sure, it’s not my favorite events [coming].”