Friday | 18 Nov 2022

BREAKING: Hyundai springs surprise in 2023 line-up

Esapekka Lappi will drive for Hyundai Motorsport in the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship, as will Craig Breen - who returns to the squad on a part-time basis.

Lappi has shared a Toyota Gazoo Racing GR Yaris with Sébastien Ogier this season but is switching sides to contest a full-time programme in an i20 N next year. The Finn also previously drove for M-Sport Ford - meaning he will now have campaigned cars from all three of the FIA World Rally Championship’s leading manufacturers. 

Breen, who netted two podiums whilst heading M-Sport Ford’s charge this season, has re-signed for the Alzenau team and will share the third car with seasoned Spaniard Dani Sordo. It’s an arrangement the Irishman is familiar with having undertaken similar programmes for Hyundai from 2019 to 2021. 

As expected, Thierry Neuville continues to lead the Korean manufacturer and will contest every round. It has not yet been determined how Breen and Sordo’s outings will be alternated. 

Collectively, the four drivers have amassed 127 podiums during their careers and acting team principal Julien Moncet hopes the experienced line-up can guide Hyundai to a third manufacturers’ world title in 2023.

“We are pleased to confirm our complete driver line-up for the 2023 WRC season with a three-car line-up and four experienced crews," Moncet said. "With these four crews, we have a competitive and experienced combination of talent, which will underpin the teamwork ethos and mentality within our entire organisation."

Lappi has not contested a full programme since 2020 and admitted his move, albeit unexpected, was centred around the opportunity to drive on a more regular basis.

“Life is full of surprises," beamed the Finn. "Getting a chance to join Hyundai Motorsport and to drive a full-calendar WRC program was something we didn’t expect. 

"This is truly a dream and a unique opportunity; we are very happy to join the Hyundai Motorsport family. The team showed during the 2022 season that it is capable of developing the car a lot during the season and has chances to win on every surface. From what I've heard already, 2023 looks very promising."

Breen has fond memories of his previous stint with Hyundai

Breen, on the other hand, is content with focusing on selected rallies. He explained how returning to the team was a natural decision. 

“Joining Hyundai Motorsport for the 2023 WRC season feels like a homecoming for me," said Breen. "We have secured some very memorable results together in the past, including several runner-up results, so hopefully I will be able to take that a step further. 

"I have followed the team’s progress and development with interest this season, and I can see the momentum that has been building. Having the backing of a manufacturer team like Hyundai is special and I’m sure we’ll have plenty more reasons to celebrate next season.”

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