Following word from Rhys Millen Racing that its main sponsor, Hyundai, is withdrawing support from its Formula Drift and Global RallyCross Championship campaigns, the Korean automaker has confirmed to Autoblog that it is ceasing all motorsports support programs in North America.
With Hyundai building sales and financial momentum not just in NA but in virtually all markets in which it competes, the timing of the pullout from racing seems curious, but Hyundai reportedly wants to focus on new marketing strategies. Hyundai never really attempted to crack mainline motorsports series here in North America like NASCAR or IndyCar, instead preferring to get a toehold in racing via edgier (and less costly) extreme-sports-style forms of competition like rallycross, hillclimbs and drifting.
Millen's operation says it is looking for new sponsors and partners for next season, but Hyundai's support of the team will evidently remain until the conclusion of its 2012 seasons.
Hyundai will continue motorsports programs elsewhere in the world – indeed, is debuting a new i20 racecar concept at today's Paris Motor Show with which it plans to return to the World Rally Championship, a series it exited back in 2003.
UPDATE: Hyundai spokesperson Jim Trainor has provided us with the following statement:
"Hyundai Motor America has made a decision to step back and re-evaluate its motorsports strategy in order to determine what is best for the brand following the conclusion of the 2012 Global Rallycross and Formula Drift seasons. We are also reconsidering our continued involvement in Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, having achieved the world record in a Hyundai Genesis Coupe this year."