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WRC Rally Poland

Hyundai able to save part of 2025 WRC car plan after FIA U-turn

The South Korean marque needs to understand the future direction of the WRC before it can commit its long-term future to the championship

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photo by: Austral / Hyundai Motorsport

Hyundai can salvage a “fraction” of its plans for its cancelled 2025 World Rally Championship car but is not yet in a position to commit to a long-term WRC future.

The South Korean marque’s future in the championship was uncertain when the FIA announced a proposal in February that included plans to make changes to the Rally1 and Rally2 technical rules for next year.

The proposal was strongly opposed by WRC manufacturers, with Hyundai the most vocal, as the uncertainty forced the brand to cancel plans to effectively develop an all-new i20 N Rally1 car for 2025.

However, earlier this month at the World Motor Sport Council meeting, the FIA announced a U-turn on its proposal, and confirmed the technical rules will remain in place until the end of 2026. The move came after the manufacturers wrote a letter to the FIA asking for stability in regulations for 2025 and 2026 in April.

Hyundai team principal Cyril Abiteboul has confirmed that the news means some of the team’s plans for its proposed 2025 i20 N Rally1 can be saved. Motorsport.com understands that the team has been given approval from the FIA to bring forward homologation jokers to achieve this.

Abiteboul also confirmed that contract talks have started with WRC points leader Thierry Neuville, who is in the final year of his current agreement.

Neuville had stated that he was waiting on the approval of the homologation joker plan before holding renewal discussions.

Cyril Abiteboul, Team principal Hyundai World Rally Team, Thierry Neuville, Hyundai World Rally Team

Cyril Abiteboul, Team principal Hyundai World Rally Team, Thierry Neuville, Hyundai World Rally Team

Photo by: Austral / Hyundai Motorsport

“We have been fairly clear since day one of the conditions that were needed to be in rally next year and now that the conditions are there we can implement on the plan,” Abiteboul told Motorsport.com.

“The plan goes for the car, the team and the drivers. If you want to fight for the championship, you need the best car, the best drivers and the best team.

“There are a number of things and individual contracts and projects that are in the process of being implemented now we have clarity on the future.

“Some of it [the 2025 car plan] a small fraction of that [can be salvaged]. It was the line we had drawn in the sand that was going to afford us the opportunity that we needed in order to commit [for next year].”

As for Hyundai’s long-term future in the WRC, Abiteboul says the car maker needs to understand the future direction of the WRC beyond 2026 to make a business case. All-new regulations will be implemented from 2027, which are expected to be announced in December.

“For 2027, for sure is a different world - we need to understand where the sport is going from a technology point of view,” said Abiteboul.

“We need to understand where it is going from a promotion perspective. There has been a couple of announcements and I’m not saying that it isn’t going in the right direction, but it takes much more of a bigger step on the promotion side of things.

“We also need to understand where our own internal world is going. The car we are using, the i20 will be totally stopped [road car production] by then.

“We need to understand what will be the i20’s successor, and the compatibility of that successor with the direction that the sport will be taking. It is a lot of new worlds to align to see if there is a business case that can make sense for everyone.

“There will be some announcement on our plans for the future and I’m not in a position to do that right now as it revolves round a number of people at base and at headquarters, and we will do that in due course,” he added, when asked if the FIA’s announcement has cemented the team’s plans until the end of 2026.

“Obviously, I would not deny that having pushed the sport in this direction it would look strange that we don’t maintain our commitment in the sport. There will be a time for everything, but we are not in a position to fully implement our plan [for the future].”

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