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17 June 2013

Hyundai Motorsport Gmbh gets i20 WRC ready for 2014 rally debut

Words by Leo Lim | Photos courtesy of Hyundai Motorsport Gmbh
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Last time I’ve seen a Hyundai on the World Rally Championship (WRC) stage was exactly 10 years ago when the Accent WRC battled it out with Evos and STIs. Sadly, their lackluster performance failed to land any podium positions in all the races they’ve joined. By then, it was a lost cause and Hyundai quietly packed their bags and walked out of the WRC.
But in 2012, they teased an i20 kitted out with a roll cage and stripped down to bare metal at the Paris Auto Show. Not much was said about the car other than Hyundai’s intention to return to WRC. Being a sceptic, I guess this was nothing more than a show and tell segment in Hyundai’s marketing tool box.
Fast forward to 2013, Hyundai's i20 rally car now has four wheel drive, a turbo charged 1.6L engine, and complete specifications on what was done to their subcompact car. A sweet 300 hp with 547.8 Nm of torque beats in the heart of this small car, coupled with a lot of aerodynamics and suspension tweaks. And to add credence to their “show and tell,” Hyundai has partnered with a tuning arm Hyundai Motorsport GmbH that's based in Alzenau, Germany, and headed by WRC veteran Michel Nandan. By this time, I’m starting to believe that Hyundai is firm in their push to go back into WRC as a real contender.
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Set to compete next year in the Rallye Monte Carlo in January 2014, Hyundai Motorsport’s creation has logged in 550 kilometers of intense testing with focus on the fire breathing 1.6-liter engine. Quoting team principal Michel Nandan “The learning from the first tests for me is quite positive. I think we are starting from a good base that we can use to carry on working. This was crucial considering the tight schedule we have until the end of the year."
Well, Michel you still have eight months ahead of you to perfect the i20 WRC. Hold on to your seats as things may start to look interesting the WRC once more.
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