Thierry Neuville has high hopes for the Hyundai i20 WRC's first gravel event in Mexico as he returns to the scene of his maiden World Rally Championship podium.

In only his second appearance on the Rally Mexico, the Belgian finished third for M-Sport Ford during the 2013 event, marking the first of seven podiums that saw him claim the runners-up spot in only his second season of WRC competition.

For 2014, Neuville heads to Mexico still seeking his first points of the season for series returnee Hyundai, with the Korean firm's i20 WRC set to make its debut on gravel. Based on last year's performance and the encouraging flashes from Hyundai, Neuville has high hopes.

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"I can't wait to go to Rally Mexico - it's a fantastic event which I really like and enjoy every time I go there. It's also a special rally for me as I had a very good result there last year, scoring the first WRC podium of my career.

"The main challenges in Mexico are the high altitude - which means the engine loses power and you need to carry more speed into the corners - and the high temperatures which make it demanding for us drivers from a physical point of view.

"We drove the Hyundai i20 WRC on gravel for the first time on a recent test session and in general we had a good feeling with the car. We had the chance to rack up some good mileage and also to make the set up adjustments for the rally next week. For us of course it will be very important to finish the event untroubled and give as much feedback as possible to the team to continue our development process."

Making his Hyundai competition debut in the second i20 WRC, test driver Chris Atkinson will make his WRC return in Mexico.

"I'm really looking forward to join the Hyundai Shell WRT for the first time this season at Rally Mexico. I have had several good results in Mexico before including a second place in 2008, so I have some great memories of this rally and the fans in Mexico. It is a unique rally with the high altitude and the varied terrain, which makes it a great challenge for the drivers and the cars.

"Being in good physical shape will be very important in Mexico, I've been doing some training in the middle of the day during the Australian summer when it's 35 degrees and I've also done some exercise in the sauna to be as much prepared as possible.

"I think it is important to get to the finish with no problems, if we can do this we will get a good result. Being the first gravel rally of the year, it will be interesting to see how well the i20 WRC performs in these conditions."