Thu 12 Jan 2023

Hyundai announces new team principal

Hyundai Motorsport has announced the appointment of Cyril Abiteboul as its new team principal. The 45-year-old is set to make his first appearance with the team at next week's Rallye Monte-Carlo (19 - 22 January).

Abiteboul takes over the reins from Julien Moncet, who has been serving in an interim capacity and will now take on a new role related to Hyundai Motorsport’s future technology. He will also assume responsibility for the company’s Customer Racing programs.

The Frenchman brings a wealth of experience to the position having already spent 15 years working in motorsport prior to this appointment. He has held a variety of positions within the industry, including stints as deputy managing director at Renault Sport F1 and team principal of the Caterham F1 team.

Abiteboul says he took a brief sabbatical from the industry to "take a bit of distance from automotive and motorsport." However, a desire to return led him to opening talks with Hyundai.

"Actually, it was still very strong in my blood, the appetite for the thrill of motorsport. We had a mutual connection with Hyundai, and I knew that they were looking for a team principal,” Abiteboul told WRC.com.

"I was not particularly active, but I made contact and it was a good fit between what Hyundai was looking for and what I was also looking for. There was a natural willingness to go further, and it's only a few weeks ago that we decided that this would happen."

While he is excited about the new opportunity, Abiteboul is also approaching the role - his first in a rally team - with humility. "I am taking this challenge like all the challenges I have been through in my life: with lots of humility," he explained. "But I'm also extremely excited and passionate about what can be done and what needs to be done."

He also faces high expectations - with big shoes to fill after Moncet led the squad to victories on four of the final six rounds last year.

Abiteboul’s confident in the abilities of his Alzenau-based colleagues, though, adding: "This team does not need to be built, it already exists and functions and it's capable of delivering extremely good results."

Sean Kim, President of Hyundai Motorsport, added: “I am pleased to welcome Cyril Abiteboul into the Hyundai family. Cyril’s experience in Formula One will help us to explore new opportunities for growth and improvements as we look to mount a more intensive fight for titles in WRC and to support our Customer Racing teams.

"We will deliberately give him time to settle in, discover the environment and, in time, to make the team principal role his own. I would like to extend my thanks to Julien Moncet, who took on the deputy role last season with determination. Under his guidance, we secured five victories and built strong momentum in the second part of the year.

"I have no doubt that Hyundai Motorsport’s technical personnel, along with Cyril, will demonstrate stronger and clearer leadership in the future by co-operating closely with the Global R&D of Hyundai Motor Company.”

Abiteboul's appointment comes at a crucial time for Hyundai as the team looks to break Toyota Gazoo Racing’s two-year dominance in the manufacturers’ championship. The 2023 season gets underway next week at Rallye Monte-Carlo (19 - 22 January).

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