Hyundai team principal Cyril Abiteboul outlines singular focus amid regulatory uncertainty

Hyundai team principal Cyril Abiteboul outlines singular focus amid regulatory uncertainty

Festus Chuma 16:30 - 19.05.2024

Hyundai bets entirely on current regulations ignoring alternatives as WMSC decision looms risking major setbacks if proven wrong.

Hyundai team principal Cyril Abiteboul has laid bare the strategic decisions shaping his team’s preparation for the next World Rally Championship season, emphasizing a single-minded focus on current regulations. 

As the motorsport world awaits the World Motor Sport Council's (WMSC) decision on the 2025 and 2026 regulations on June 11, Hyundai's approach contrasts sharply with its rivals.

In a candid admission, Abiteboul revealed that Hyundai is not preparing for any changes to the regulations, a move that could have substantial repercussions for the Frankfurt-based squad. 

“Let’s be honest, [it would impact] massively. But we really don’t have the resources or the appetite to cover all possible bases,” he stated as per DirtFish.

 “So rather than trying to do a bit of everything – which is never good in motorsport – we’ve decided consciously to make an assumption and to focus 100% of our resources on it [the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid].”

This strategy means Hyundai is not spending “one euro, one hour of design office time or one kilometre of test time” on alternative regulations. 

This decision starkly contrasts with Toyota's approach as the latter has been actively modifying and testing the GR Yaris Rally1 and Rally2 ahead of last month’s Croatia Rally.

Abiteboul highlighted that while Toyota has been experimenting with the regulations, Hyundai has limited itself to simulations. 

“Yes, we’ve run a bit of simulation, but that’s it. Absolutely no physical testing, no car production whatsoever. And we have no intent to change,” he added.

All three manufacturers currently competing in the championship have signed a letter requesting an extension of the current regulations through the end of 2026. 

The outcome of next month's WMSC meeting will reveal whether Hyundai's gamble pays off or if they will be scrambling to catch up.

Abiteboul's strategy is a risky one, with potential high rewards but also significant pitfalls. 

“We made quite a brave – and that can be a very dangerous – decision to assume a certain set of regulations for next year and to develop a technical strategy according to what we assume will happen. It is what it is,” he explained.

The team principal acknowledged the risks involved, stating, “We may be proven wrong. If that happens, we will be clearly on the back foot for next year. But right now, with that assumption, we know exactly what to do and we are in the process of doing it.”

Hyundai's future competitiveness hinges on the council's decision making the upcoming vote not just a regulatory formality but a potential game-changer for the Hyundai squad.

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