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10 October 2012

Paris 2012: Hyundai’s marks WRC comeback with i20 rally car (w/ video)

Words by Rico Soriano | Photos courtesy of Hyundai Motor Company
 
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When was the last time you heard the words Hyundai and motorsports in the same sentence? Well, for most of you, probably never. But did you know that the Korean automaker used to compete in the World Rally Championship (WRC) back in 1999 with a four-wheel-drive Accent hatchback? Unfortunately, with limited success and a tight budget, they were forced to pull out after the 2003 season. 
 
But at the opening of the 2012 Paris Motor Show, Hyundai proudly announced their return to the WRC with the i20. According to Mark Hall, Hyundai Motor Europe's Marketing Director: “Our participation will demonstrate Hyundai's engineering excellence and durability, and will also help to enhance our passenger vehicles in future."
 
Hyundai showcased their new WRC-contender, based on a road-going i20, which will serve as their official platform. From what we can see, the i20 WRC prototype is fitted with more aggressive front and rear bumpers, ultra wide fenders, extra vents on the hood and roof, and a huge double-deck rear spoiler. Though the exact specs for the i20 rally car are yet to be confirmed, Hyundai needs a 300hp 1.6L four-cylinder turbocharged engine, all-wheel-drive, sequential gearbox, and beefier suspension in order to meet the FIA's regulations for the World Rally Car class. 
 
According to Hyundai, the i20 WRC will be developed by Hyundai's R&D Center in Namyang, Korea. But an in-house team based in Frankfurt, Germany will be in charge or making the rally car competitive. There has been no official word when the i20 WRC will make its official debut on the rally stages, but we presume that I'll make several test appearances in 2013, followed by a full season in 2014. 
 
With more entries coming into the WRC, such as Volkswagen's Polo R and Toyota's Yaris, the upcoming seasons will surely be worth to watch.
 
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