Hyundai Motorsport boss Michel Nandan admitted that inconsistency was to blame for failing to land either the drivers’ or manufacturers’ titles in this years World Rally Championship (WRC) series.
The Korean squad finished second in the manufacturers’ standings behind M-Sport World Rally Team, and Thierry Neuville was runner-up in the drivers’ points, despite winning more rounds than anyone else.
Nandan said the campaign brought good performances with the new i20, Neuville’s four season victories the highest Hyundai tally yet. But he added that missed opportunities meant the squad did not achieve what it targeted.
“Mostly, we suffered from inconsistency from one rally to the next. We were competitive but there were some mistakes in several areas, which all combined to result in both championships being missed,” he said.
“Our crews will also be the first to admit that there were mistakes or confidence lacking at times this season. It all adds up, but we are not placing blame. We need to perfect all areas of our operation, and that’s where we’re focusing for 2018,” Nandan added.
Disappointing results from Finland, Germany and Spain in the second half of the season ruined Hyundai’s title bids, but Nandan pointed to better performances from the final two rounds as good signs for 2018.
“The battles we saw in Wales Rally GB and Australia were encouraging, with several of our crews fighting at the front. This is what we want to see in 2018, pushing our rivals to the limit right to the bitter end,” he said.
“We need to iron out the car issues we’ve experienced – unreliability and inconsistency – while continuing to do the very many things we’ve done well this year – excellent teamwork, dedication and determination,” Nandan added.
Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen are inked to drive all 13 rounds next year. Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon will share the third i20, the Spaniard getting the nod for the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo and the Kiwi at the wheel in Rally Sweden.