Fri 16 Jun 2023

Revealed: New drivers added to Hyundai’s 2023 line-up

Hyundai Motorsport has revealed not one, but two changes to its 2023 FIA World Rally Championship driver line-up.

The Korean manufacturer squad is reaffirming its commitment to nurturing rising talent by relaunching the Hyundai Motorsport Driver Development Programme and has selected Teemu Suninen and Emil Lindholm as its latest recruits.

Suninen, 29, replaces the late Craig Breen in a top-level Hyundai i20 N Rally1 car, which is shared with seasoned Spaniard Dani Sordo.

The Finn, who scored three top-flight podiums for M-Sport Ford between 2018 and 2020, has been campaigning an i20 N Rally2 in WRC2 this season. He will contest Estonia and Finland, both high-speed gravel rallies, with the remainder of his programme to be revealed in due course.

His compatriot Lindholm will take the reins aboard the Rally2-specification car in Estonia, jumping ship from a Toksport-prepared Škoda Fabia while continuing his WRC2 title defence alongside co-driver Reeta Hämäläinen. Further plans for the 26-year-old are currently under wraps.

First established in 2017, Hyundai states the objective of its freshly restructured development programme is to build the future of the team, providing an environment and dedicated resources for young drivers to focus, train and develop their skills in order to become the next generation of Rally1 driver candidates.

The team, currently second to Toyota in the manufacturers' championship, also added that it plans to expand its pool of drivers in 2023 and develop the next generation of WRC drivers by 2024.

“The Hyundai Motorsport Driver development Programme is not here to fill a gap, instead it is a strategic platform to ensure that Hyundai has multiple choices and options among the young drivers out there,” explained team principal Cyril Abiteboul.

“We already have an exciting stable of talent, featuring Teemu and Emil, and I’m looking forward to supporting their development as we start to build the programme further.”

Hyundai Motorsport president Sean Kim echoed Abiteboul’s sentiments, adding: “We already have drivers with experience in Thierry, Esapekka and Dani, but now the direction is to look into the younger generation and help them to fulfil their potential. Supporting rising talent with this programme we can honour the memory of Craig Breen, who, as a passionate rally fan, always put a lot of effort into nurturing juniors, and also strongly reinforces our commitment to the WRC.

“It is important for a manufacturer like Hyundai to support young drivers as we are able to give them opportunities to take the next steps to develop into future world champions.” 

Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM