Hyundai Motorsport boss Michel Nandan has admitted his team’s i20 World Rally Car was maybe too fragile to win this year’s WRC manufacturers’ title.
The Korean squad’s championship hopes were virtually extinguished at RallyRACC Catalunya – Rally de España last weekend when all three of its i20 Coupes suffered similar steering and suspension failures.
Thierry Neuville, who retired from ADAC Rallye Deutschland in August with broken rear suspension, retired in Spain when he took a deep cut on Sunday morning and broke the front unit.
Dani Sordo and Andreas Mikkelsen were also forced onto the sidelines the previous day after hitting the same concrete block at the side of the road with a similar outcome.
“It is difficult to have all three cars stopping with broken suspension in more or less the same way,” said team principal Nandan.
“It is true there have been other instances where this has happened. Probably it could be a problem, but you know when you hit something you can damage some parts. Maybe our car is more fragile?”
M-Sport World Rally Team requires just four points to secure the title with two events remaining as Hyundai trails by 103 points.
Nandan, acknowledged the i20 had not shown the all-round strength required to win the title.
“Our manufacturers’ championship challenge is bad and probably over. To be champion, you need to have a lot of things perfect. Here (in Spain) we are missing still a lot of things so I think we don’t deserve to be champions. You have to face the reality,” he added.
Neuville’s retirement left his pursuit of the drivers’ title in tatters. He trails Sébastien Ogier by 38 points but Nandan confirmed supporting the Belgian’s outside chances would be Hyundai’s priority in the final two rounds.
“Probably, we can have a glimmer of hope for the drivers’ championship, even if Seb has quite a big advantage for sure,” he said. “But there is still a possibility and Thierry has to try. We will help him to do that.”