Hyundai boss Michel Nandan described the Korean manufacturer’s maiden podium at Rally Mexico as ‘hugely significant’ for the team.
Thierry Neuville finished third on only the third rally for the i20 car, despite late dramas when a leaking radiator forced him to stop twice on the liaison section to the finish to top up the engine with beer.
Team-mate Chris Atkinson was seventh, after overcoming a troubled opening morning. It was the first time both cars completed all the stages.
“Our team is still very young so this result is hugely significant for us,” said Nandan. “We are learning all the time and we are pushing hard both on event and back at our factory in Alzenau.
“The WRC programme is a big challenge and one upon which we embarked with a very short timescale. This result is a huge reward for a lot of hard work and determination, so thanks must go to the entire team in Alzenau and also to our colleagues in the Namyang R&D centre in Korea,” he added.
The i20 ran at a considerable power disadvantage to its rivals, but Neuville delivered a flawless performance.
“We knew it would be difficult. We had a weekend without trouble except for the last stage. We were not on the pace of Volkswagen but we knew we might struggle with the temperature and the altitude. It was a great job by the team and we are still improving,” said the Belgian.
“It’s special for us. I saw the team was really happy. We had two disappointing results on the last two rallies, but here we are with two cars at the finish. We know we are going to progress and now we are more motivated to keep doing our job,” he added.