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WRC Rally Kenya

Hyundai investigating running a fourth WRC car next year

Hyundai is investigating the possibility of running a fourth top flight car in the World Rally Championship next year.

Dani Sordo, Candido Carrera, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

The manufacturer has fielded three cars in the WRC’s top tier since 2019 but is considering expanding its line-up to four for the 2024 season. The last time it ran four cars in a WRC event was 2018 Rally Portugal when it entered Thierry Neuville, Dani Sordo, Hayden Paddon and Andreas Mikkelsen.

New team principal Cyril Abiteboul says running a fourth car is on the team’s wish list with a decision to be taken in the next few months.

Abiteboul’s desire to field a fourth i20 N Rally1 follows the announcement of the team’s revamped young driver development programme, which includes inaugural inductees Teemu Suninen and reigning WRC2 champion Emil Lindholm. The former will take over the third i20 N at Rally Estonia and Rally Finland.

Abiteboul revealed the prospect of running a fourth car when asked if Suninen and Lindholm will partner Dani Sordo in the third car next year.

“Absolutely that is a possibility and we will announce the plan for everyone [all our drivers] including Dani in due course,” Abiteboul told Autosport.

“That is very much a possibility, the plan is for one of them to drive a car.

“We are looking and even though no decision is made, one of the things that we would like to do is see if we can run a fourth car.

“It is a possibility but the problem is with the price of those cars and that is why I have been banging on about the regulations regarding reducing the cost for everyone.

Teemu Suninen and Emil Lindholm, Hyundai Motorsport

Teemu Suninen and Emil Lindholm, Hyundai Motorsport

Photo by: Hyundai Motorsport

“The cost involved in running a fourth car with the current technical regulation and the current sporting regulations, which means very long events and a lot of people, are crazy high.

“We are talking about the weekend format and making it more attractive and simple regulations to bring the costs down so more young drivers have chance to be part of a programme like this.”

Abiteboul revealed that the prospect of running a fourth car wouldn’t be determined by any changes to technical or sporting regulations.

“It is an internal discussion and we need to go through our budgets,” he added.

“We will have to do a number of trade offs as always. If we do that, then we will have to do less of something else.

“So are we better off investing in young drivers, or doing a particular development programme? I don’t know, this is a decision we will need to make in the next months.”

Neuville is the only driver currently under contract at Hyundai for next season, although a discussion to extend Esapekka Lappi’s contract is expected to be held soon.

“I don’t think there is any rush [to secure our driver line-up] we have bit of time,” said Abiteboul.

“The performance that Esapekka is doing is going to translate into an extension discussion and I expect that we are a few months away from having that discussion.”

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