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  Home > Teams > Current WRC teams > Hyundai
Overview
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What turned out to be a four year involvement in WRC, first Hyundai World Rally Car was unveiled to world in September 1999. It was time when WRC was riding high as Seat and Toyota were still in, Peugeot had just debuted their 206WRC and Citroen was wanting to join too.

Hyundai World Rally Team had been practicing WRC routines by running a pair of Coupe Kit Cars for 1998/1999 seasons. New Accent showed promise early on but despite best efforts team failed to challenge for top honors. Consequently, effort folded in September 2003 when Hyundai announced withdrawal to draw breath and planned comeback for latter half of 2006 season.

Hyundai's WRC effort was run by experienced british company Motor Sport Developments MSD, founded in 1987 by David Whitehead. MSD has run rally programs for General Motors (Opel) and track racing programs for Opel, Honda, Vauxhall and Peugeot in 1990's.

Hyundai-Kia is 9th largest car manufacturer in the world with 2.6 million manufactured vehicles (data by OICA for 2002). Despite being five times bigger than Subaru, Hyundai never fully committed to their WRC effort.

Withdrawal
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During 2003 season team was seriously hampered by budget constraints. Car development was virtually halted and testing had been restricted to limited pre-event testing. These difficulties led to resignation of chief engineer Graham Moore in August and made drivers concerned early in the season.

Team principal David Whitehead was unable to attend either Rally Finland or Rally Australia as he had been in Korea to negotiate budget for 2004. Some people, including myself, were questioning whether Hyundai would still be in WRC for 2004. Team maintained that they did have contract with Hyundai and that budget was the only open item at the moment.

This changed overnight when Hyundai Motor issued a press release in 17th of September 2003, accusing MSD of failure to produce audited financial records and effectively ending HWRT efforts for the time being. Talks to resolve the dispute were fruitless and Hyundai Motor announced that they would form a separate, in-house motor sports division to Russelsheim, Germany and make return to WRC in 2006. That never happened.

Extract from press release:
"Withdrawing is a painful decision but also a realistic admission that a break is absolutely mandatory for us to reorganise and rethink our entire approach to motorsport. But we'll be back in 2006 in fighting form with a completely new engine and car to mount a more credible challenge for the WRC crown."

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