Abiteboul sets out Rally Mexico "mission" for Hyundai drivers

The entire Hyundai Motorsport team is “on a mission” to preserve their strong record on gravel as the FIA World Rally Championship makes its way to WRC Guanajuato Rally Mexico next week.
Abiteboul sets out Rally Mexico

That’s according to the South Korean squad’s newly-appointed Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul who has made clear his aims and objectives for the first loose surface event of the current campaign.

Heading to round three, Thierry Neuville is the highest placed Hyundai flagbearer in third position on 32 points – six adrift of Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera and a further three behind M-Sport Ford’s Ott Tanak.

Over the course of last season, the I20 N Rally1 car earned victories on a total of five events, three of which were on gravel. However, Hyundai has never managed to record success on Rally Mexico.

It will be the first time since 2020 when the COVID-19 health pandemic gripped the planet and quickly led to countries shutting their borders that the Leon-based event makes an appearance on the calendar.

Three years ago, it was cut short by an entire day by organisers with the backing of the FIA, team bosses and the World Rally Championship promoter due to the fast-changing nature of travel restrictions.

With the current picture resembling something much closer to normality, and the motivation of a first win in North America front and centre, Abiteboul wants his crews to hit the ground running once the action begins proper on Friday when a total of eight special stages have to be negotiated.

“After one mainly Tarmac event [Rallye Monte-Carlo] and another on snow and ice [Rally Sweden], we now take on gravel for the first time this season,” said the Frenchman.

“The team performed very well on this surface last season, so we are on a mission to continue that in 2023. All three drivers have experience of Rally México and the effects of the heat and high altitude on both themselves and their cars.”

While most of the main field has previous experience of WRC Guanajuato Rally Mexico, the unforgiving terrain and high altitudes synonymous with the meeting will be an all-new challenge for their respective Rally1 cars.

“This year will offer a different challenge, as this is the first time the new hybrid power units will run during the event, so we have an opportunity to find a competitive edge with our set-up,” added Abiteboul. “But the crews are feeling confident, as am I, so we should be able to target our first victory in Mexico.”

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