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Fri 24 Mar 2023

Abiteboul Reliability paid off in Neuvilles Mexico podium

Hyundai team principal Cyril Abiteboul has lauded his team's efforts following a thrilling second-place finish for Thierry Neuville at Guanajuato Rally México last week.

The Belgian driver secured the runner-up spot after a tense finish in the Wolf Power Stage, edging out Toyota rival Elfyn Evans - who was hampered by a bent suspension arm - by a mere four-tenths of a second.

Despite the early exit of Esapekka Lappi, who crashed his i20 N Rally1 from the lead of the rally on Saturday morning, Abiteboul was delighted with the car’s reliability and the result it produced.

"We’ve been working very hard, and the car has been quite amazing from a reliability perspective all the way throughout the weekend,” he said. “We felt like we deserved [second] position, but there is no such thing in the regulations which talks about who deserves it most!

“It was close and it was intense, but at the end of the day it went in our favour which was great, particularly with losing Esapekka when he was leading the rally. This was a very good rally in terms of morale after such highs and lows during the weekend."

Abiteboul started his role as Hyundai's team principal at the beginning of this season having spent several years as the managing director of Renault’s F1 Team. Now, three rallies into his new position, the Frenchman admits he is still adapting to the differences between the two disciplines.

"I think I am getting a better understanding of the sport, but I still need to understand how I can make a better and clearer contribution.

“It’s true that being a team principal in Formula 1 with a helmet and looking at all the data and the key decisions during the event is really different from sitting in a room [and being] quite remote from all the action, but I still need to understand that. But clearly this rally was very positive also for the morale for myself about this sport," he added.

Hyundai trails Toyota by 27 points in the manufacturers’ title race ahead of next month’s Croatia Rally (20 - 23 April). The Korean manufacturer squad secured a double podium at the asphalt event last year.

Watch: Best of Action WRC Guanajuato Rally México 2023
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