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If you don’t already know, Hyundai is making a return to the FIA World Rally Championship. The original plan was to take part in the 2013 WRC season, before the Korean carmaker delayed the debut to 2014. The Hyundai i20 WRC completed its first shakedown session in May, and the team has had a busy summer of intensive testing.

Development of the i20 WRC continued in the second half of September as the Hyundai Motorsport team returned to the tarmac on a three-day test session in France followed by a week of testing on gravel at high-altitude in the South of Spain. Experienced rally pilots Bryan Bouffier and Juho Hänninen shared driving duties.

“For the last couple of months we’ve tested every two weeks on all kinds of conditions and surfaces to continue the collection of valuable feedback and data. After the Finland test, it was very important for us to take a short break back at the factory in order to review and evaluate the work done so far as the schedule will be even busier from now on,” said Hyundai Motorsport team principal Michel Nandan.

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“This car is similar in specification to the one we used in Finland in August, but it does feature a couple of new elements. High altitude is one of the challenges we’ll have to overcome next year in the WRC, especially in Mexico where the stages go up to 2,500 metres above sea level.

“The performance of the car can be affected under these conditions so the aim on this test was to study the engine behaviour and monitor the impact on the engine power. We also took the opportunity to keep on working on gravel set-up solutions and complete some good mileage with the car,” explained Nandan, who designed the successful Peugeot 206 and 307 WRC cars.

Hyundai’s i20 WRC test programme will continue over the next three months as the challenge in next year’s WRC begins in just over 100 days.