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Hyundai to use October joker to improve WRC package

Hyundai will utilise October’s homologation window to improve its World Rally Championship challenger as it bids to close the gap to Toyota.

Teemu Suninen, Mikko Markkula, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

The Korean marque has made significant strides to catch the WRC’s pacesetters Toyota this season, but after nine rounds Hyundai has achieved only one victory in Sardinia compared to Toyota’s seven.

Arguably Hyundai’s biggest improvement has arrived in fast gravel rallies. In Estonia it finished second, third and fifth, while last weekend Neuville scored a second consecutive runner-up result, as Teemu Suninen claimed fourth.

Hyundai has calculated that it was losing 0.17s per kilometre to Toyota in Estonia with a similar gap in Finland, where the team has benefited from its testing facility.

Team principal Cyril Abiteboul is confident the developments it is working on can close that gap, with the next wave of upgrades earmarked for the October homologation window.

It is unclear exactly what is planned to come online with the team also conscious that it needs to address reliability issues following a series of prop shaft failures at Safari Rally Kenya in June.

“I think it is a fair representation of our package as things stand,” Abiteboul told Motorsport.com. “We simply need to be satisfied with the step we have done against ourselves last year. We need more of the steps for the future.

“The figures don’t lie, they are facts. This [0.17s per kilometre] is the pace we need to find in the car through a mix of probably a bit of optimisation of what we have, but also our developments which are taking a bit of time.

Cyril Abiteboul, Team principal Hyundai World Rally Team

Cyril Abiteboul, Team principal Hyundai World Rally Team

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

“We know that we are overweight and we know we are missing a bit of rear stability, which is also downforce, and probably the top speed advantage that we had in the past.

“I am sure that in all the concepts and ideas we have in the factory there is much, much more than 0.17s that we are talking about. It is about finding a way to implement that to the car and hopefully we can do that before 2027.

“Of course we will be using this [October] window. We have clear plans about the way we want to use those jokers, but frankly it is very limited given the work that we have ahead of us to make the car a bit more reliable too. Let’s not forget the issues we had in Kenya, which are not totally out of the scope.

“We know we need to make the car lighter and we need to make it quicker, so those are the three things we need to do and three jokers to do all of that is very limited.

“It is a huge frustration as we have a factory, we have a design office and production and all of the resources, but we are not able to do what they would like to do because of regulations. It is what it is.”

Hyundai is 67 points behind Toyota in the manufacturers’ standings with four rounds of the season remaining.

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