Wed 12 Jul 2023

Mid-season Review: Hyundai Motorsport

The tragic loss of Craig Breen has understandably dominated the first half of Hyundai Motorsport’s 2023 FIA World Rally Championship season. The Irishman had returned to the Korean manufacturer and immediately returned smiles to faces with an outstanding second place in Rally Sweden.

The response from both Hyundai and the whole WRC community was an outpouring of grief and love for everything Craig Breen stood for. His team-mates Thierry Neuville, Esapekka Lappi and Dani Sordo were determined to deliver in his name.

Neuville’s departure from the lead on the second day in Croatia was tough for the Belgian to take. He wanted this one for Breen.

That victory came in Sardinia and was both hard-earned and well deserved.

From where it started the Rally1 generation at the top of 2022, the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 is almost unrecognisable. It has the pace to win rallies and challenge defending champion Toyota anywhere and everywhere and on any surface.

The team has been strengthened in terms of personnel. Beyond Lappi’s arrival on a full-time programme Cyril Abiteboul took the job of team principal and more recently Francois-Xavier Demaison has followed his fellow Frenchman out of Formula 1 and into the World Rally Championship.

Even more recently, Teemu Suninen has been deployed in a third factory i20 for the next two rallies in Estonia and Finland. With two Finns taking on the season’s fastest gravel, the second half of Hyundai’s season is certain to start in the most exciting fashion.

What’s possible? More rally wins for sure – and they need to come quickly if the Korean manufacturer is to look for a repeat of the titles it won in 2019 and 2020.

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