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Mon 05 Jun 2023

Team effort propelled us to Italy victory, says Abiteboul

Team principal Cyril Abiteboul has lauded Hyundai Motorsport’s 1-2 finish at Rally Italia Sardegna as a testament to the collaborative spirit within the team.

Thierry Neuville headed Esapekka Lappi in a dream double podium for Hyundai at the FIA World Rally Championship’s sixth round last week, the Belgian marking a maiden 2023 triumph for both him and the Korean manufacturer squad.

Abiteboul, who joined the team at the beginning of the season, was keen to emphasise the collective effort behind the win whilst also acknowledging that the result held significance beyond the event itself.

Hyundai arrived in Olbia 32 points behind rival manufacturer Toyota Gazoo Racing, but left the Mediterranean island event having reduced that deficit by almost one-third.

“It’s a team effort,” Abiteboul said. “It is good to see, it is good to observe, it is good to lead - we have been doing motorsport for this moment. It has been great and very much deserved by the team.

“We have been very consistently on podiums before this season, but clearly there was a trend and I think we cannot deny there was a trend that Toyota was starting to chip away from us in the different championships.

“Clearly this win and this team result is important to the championship, but not just to the championship but to the whole dynamics. It is not just metal, it is also brain and heart and confidence.”

Neuville, who won the rally by 33.0sec, added: “It is a pleasure to take the first victory for the team this year, and the first 1-2 for [Abiteboul] as well. Craig [Breen] is also in our memory today as well - we wanted the victory in Croatia, but we got it now.”

Rally Italia Sardegna 2023: Event Highlights