Hyundai Motorsport took another significant step towards its forthcoming return to the FIA World Rally Championship with the unveiling of its latest specification i20 WRC car at the Geneva Motor Show.
Hyundai is gearing up for a challenge on the 2014 WRC with a year of private testing and development as it progresses towards a competition-ready WRC-specification of its i20 model. A first iteration of the car made its debut at the Paris Motor Show back in September, but this latest model incorporates notable updates to the exterior bodywork and suspension. The upgrades are the result of collaborative work between Hyundai's R&D facility in Namyang, Korea and the newly formed Hyundai Motorsport GmbH in Alzenau, Germany, headed up by veteran WRC man Michel Nandan.
The new specification Hyundai i20 WRC also reveals a striking look thanks to a redesigned livery which blends a dynamic treatment of Hyundai's corporate blue together with an innovative use of characters from the native Korean script, Hunminjeongeum
“We are still in the infancy of our exciting WRC programme, so the development curve for the car and team is steep,” team principal Nandan commented, “This latest version of the i20 WRC has centred on aerodynamics with the objective of improving the car's cooling systems.
“A new rear wing and front spoiler give the i20 WRC a new external appearance while, under the bodywork, improvements have also been made to the suspension kinematics and chassis stiffness as we gear up for a more structured test programme later in the year. We have lots of important foundations to lay both with the car and the team at Alzenau.
In the two months since his appointment, Nandan has focused on establishing the core Hyundai WRC team at the bespoke facility in Alzenau with key technical, logistics and motorsport specialists joining the new manufacturer team. The team will soon be embarking on a more intensive test programme with the i20 WRC to ramp up development of the car ahead of its maiden season.
“Building up a new motorsport facility from scratch is an ambitious and rewarding challenge,” Nandan admitted, “We have begun the recruitment process but already have a number of key people in place who bring with them a wealth of rally and motorsport experience. We are rapidly building up the team infrastructure and are pleased that everything is running to schedule.
“Hyundai has returned to the World Rally stage to demonstrate its technical capabilities on one of the world's most competitive stages. Our ultimate goal is to be victorious but we know that we have a lot of tough competition ahead of us. We will use this year to lay the solid foundations but hope to advance quickly as 2014 approaches.”