Just days after Hyundai Europe confirmed it would return to the World Rally Championship with a highly-modified version of its i20 hatchback, Hyundai Motor America has announced an end to its motorsport programs in North America.
Rhys Millen Racing, which has partnered with Hyundai in Formula Drift, Global RallyCross Championship, X-Games and Pikes Peak International Hill Climb competition for the past four years, made the announcement on its website this morning.
Even beyond motorsports, Rhys Millen Racing has worked with Hyundai to create concept vehicles for the SEMA show, including the Genesis Coupe-based RM500 and the RMR Signature Edition Equus.
When contacted for comment, Derek Joyce, Hyundai Motor America’s manager of product public relations, said, “We're in the process of looking at how and where we will spend our marketing dollars in 2013 and have determined that it is time to step back and see if we are getting the most from our motorsports spend.”
“We've been happy with the exposure we've gotten for the Genesis Coupe and Veloster over the past couple of years,” Joyce continued, “but think it's smart to re-evaluate before moving forward.”
It's important to note that the seemingly opposite decisions on motorsport activities come from different Hyundai sales organizations. Hyundai Europe is responsible for the decision to return to WRC competition, while Hyundai Motor America is taking a closer look at its participation in racing, if only to see where it's marketing dollars are best spent.
While the announcement leaves Rhys Millen Racing without a key sponsor, we have a feeling to won't be long before another manufacturer steps in to fill the void.