2016 Hyundai i20 WRC-06

Hyundai Motorsport has been testing the new i20 WRC rally car for some time now, over 8,000 km clocked to be precise, and the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship challenger has finally been unveiled at the team’s factory in Alzenau, Germany.

The five-door ‘New Generation’ i20 WRC marks the opening of a new chapter in the short history of Hyundai Motorsport, building on two successful seasons in the WRC. Following its foundation-laying year in 2013, the team developed a brand new WRC car from scratch for its first season, where the i20 secured its maiden win in Germany. The second season was more consistent with four podium finishes and a fight for second place in the manufacturers’ championship right up to the season finale. Citroen prevailed.

Early this year, Hyundai committed to a year-long test and development programme for a WRC spec of the road-going new five-door i20, with its competitive debut set for Rallye Monte Carlo 2016. After 8,000 km, it has proven to be quicker than its predecessor, with the team’s drivers also praising improved drivability.

2016 Hyundai i20 WRC-05

Hyundai will field three cars in every round of the 2016 WRC, with Dani Sordo, Hayden Paddon and Thierry Neuville all confirmed for a full season, sharing cars #3, #4 and #20. The team will begin its third season with two new i20 WRCs and one previous model at Monte Carlo before switching to three new ones from Rally Sweden. This season’s goal is “to fight at the front in every stage and to mount a heightened championship assault.”

The team has also retained the services of rising star Kevin Abbring, who will remain as test driver. The Dutchman will contest selected WRC rounds in a fourth car as part of his agreement, but his primary focus will be on managing development of the team’s 2017 WRC car and R5 customer car activities.

Speaking of that, The R5 project under the customer racing division will roll out in the next few weeks. There will be a development phase during the first half of 2016, homologation of the car in mid-2016, and order taking in the second part of the year.

Will Hyundai finally give defending champs Volkswagen a run for its money next year? It’s a good time to do so as Citroen will be sitting out of the 2016 season to develop its new 2017 car.