WRC instability leaves Hyundai’s future hanging in the balance

Hyundai feels waiting until mid-season for 2025 rule changes is unworkable

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Hyundai Motorsport is pushing for confirmation of 2025 World Rally Championship regulations as it seeks to clarify its future in the series.

The FIA has proposed dropping hybrid and radically slowing Rally1 cars while simultaneously offering more performance to the second-tier Rally2 category for next year. The teams and WRC Promoter are questioning the need for the change – especially in such a short timeframe.

Hyundai would be hardest hit by the change. The Korean squad had been developing an all-new Rally1 car to run to current regulations; work on that car was halted after directives on the WRC’s short and long-term future were issued by the World Motor Sport Council in February.

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We need certainty and the timing is a very big concern for us. And as soon as possible is not in June. I’m talking a couple of weeks, not a couple of months. Cyril Abiteboul

Abiteboul said the revised 2025 car was needed for Hyundai to remain competitive in the WRC.

Asked whether Hyundai would be present on the start line of the 2025 season opener in Monte Carlo, Abiteboul told DirtFish: “You need to expect a Hyundai that can be competitive and has the certainty to be competitive. We need to have insurance in the stability of the regulations and for that, we need those regulations as soon as possible.”

That deadline is critical, so that Hyundai can swiftly resume production of its new 2025 car: “Exactly. Any variation of it,” Abiteboul confirmed.

“This [current] car still has a deficit to the Toyota and it’s a deficit that we cannot afford to keep on carrying for the next two years. We had a plan and this plan has obviously been massively impacted by this new orientation from FIA.”

New WRC regulations are expected to be ratified in June. Abiteboul says that’s too late for next season.

“It’s simply not workable,” he added. “It’s not feasible. So we really have an issue, so it means that right now we have no choice but to design a car with assumptions and you simply can’t do that. We need certainty and the timing is a very big concern for us. And as soon as possible is not in June. I’m talking a couple of weeks, not a couple of months.

“We are again going to come up with an open-minded discussion with the FIA. We have weekly meetings with them and again, we are voicing our concerns and our proposal in relation to that. There will be a WRC Commission [meeting] in the next couple of weeks to hopefully exchange again and maybe on this occasion understand what is it that FIA is trying to achieve through those changes. And we’ll reflect on that and to what extent it has an impact on our own plans.”

Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville, who has been with the Alzenau-based team from the start more than a decade ago, told DirtFish he remained unsure of the brand’s WRC future.

The Belgian said: “You can ask any team member at the moment and there’s a little bit of a strange situation where we don’t know really where we will go. I mean, it might be a quite simple, straightforward go on, but it could be anything else as well. I can’t give you the answer, to be honest.”

Neuville pointed to Hyundai’s shift away from internal combustion engines in its high-performance N range as a reason why the proposed loss of hybrid would undermine Hyundai’s presence in the WRC.


Hyundai is retiring its i20 N and i30 N combustion models. The Ioniq 5 N is the new flagship of the N sub-brand

“I know that Hyundai is selling sports road cars, which are all fully electric and no combustion engines anymore,” said Neuville. “There was a little storytelling with the hybrid, but now there isn’t any, so it’s hard for manufacturers to promote electrical products if the sports series is running with full combustion engine.”

Neuville reiterated his frustration at what he sees as a potentially overly reactive proposal from the FIA.

He continued: “I have always said what I thought. Here we are thinking about the future of the sport. I have grown up dreaming about being a rally driver and I’ve been doing that for more than 15 years. I’m sitting in race cars all the days between one rally and the next one, and it’s what I like to do. But if I see my sport going down the route that’s a farce and taking decisions that sometimes go against the decision of the manufacturers, it’s a big frustration.

“They’re acting in panic. We have two years in front of us where we can take clever decisions, prepare for the future, and work on promotion already. It’s one of the factors we have argued about since last year already: promotion of the sport. More than any technical regulations, which obviously seem to work for the manufacturers who are there and who weren’t complaining about it.”

Beyond the proposal for next season, Neuville said the bigger picture remained the next full homologation cycle due for 2027.

“I know that for 2027 a change is needed,” he said. “But I also know that those who are going to join [the WRC] need some time to prepare, and they need to make some decisions. But they won’t take [that decision to join the WRC] at the end of 2026 when the regulations come out. They want to do it at the beginning of 2025 with some proper regulations and some time to prepare for their new adventures.”