4 September 2013
Hyundai continues intensive test programme
Bryan Bouffier and Juho Hanninen at the wheel as i20 WRC development schedule takes in France and Finland.
Hyundai Motorsport's intensive testing schedule continued its relentless pace throughout August as the 2014-spec i20 WRC made its tarmac debut in France, as well as a productive test on the high-speed gravel conditions in Finland.
Test drivers Bryan Bouffier and Juho Hänninen were both in action over a total of ten days, sharing duties on tarmac before gravel specialist Hänninen assumed control on his home turf.
The latest iteration of the i20 WRC hit tarmac roads for the first time in the Vosges region of France from 12-16 August with the main objective of gathering experience and data on this terrain.
“For our first time with the 2014-spec i20 WRC on tarmac, we adopted a deliberately broad test plan with the main goal of defining the base set-up for that surface,” explained team principal Michel Nandan, “We completed good mileage with no major issues, and obtained valuable feedback from both Bryan and Juho, which will allow us to concentrate next on fine-tuning the individual components. Overall, it was a very positive tarmac debut.”
“I think this test has given us a very good base from which we can develop further,” Bouffier added, “The roads in the Vosges region allowed us to assess some key components and to identify the characteristics of the i20 WRC on tarmac. I'm very pleased with the behaviour of the car in the fast sections and when the road is bumpy. Of course, we will continue working on some areas but, overall, I find the car very well balanced and easy to handle.”
From the tarmac test, the team moved to Finland last week to tackle the fast gravel roads and the well-known jumps, which characterise Rally Finland, one of the most technically demanding rallies of World Rally Championship. With local hero Hänninen behind the wheel, the test featured an upgraded version of the 2014-spec of the i20 WRC.
“In Finland, we used an evolution of the 2014-spec car, different from the one which we used in France,” Nandan confirmed, “We applied some changes to the shape of the body and during the test we worked on the aerodynamics of the car. The i20 WRC was fitted with a new aerodynamics package and we focused our efforts in finding a good balance.
“We wanted to check that all aspects of the car worked properly at high speed, as well as on the jumps, which are extremely demanding. The car can reach extreme acceleration through these jumps so it is essential to study the behaviour of the car and all of its components upon landing. We've also tried different suspension and differential solutions to develop the best set-up for next year's rally.”
“I was positively surprised with the handling of the i20 WRC after the first run,” Hänninen commented, “When you go to Finland for the first time, you never know what to expect; sometimes, it can be really rough and there can be a lot of work required on the suspension. In this case, though, it was really easy from the first day and we were able to work making only minor adjustments. The car reacted very well to every change we made throughout the five days. I felt that I could trust the car immediately and the feeling got stronger day after day.”
With test sessions planned almost every two weeks, Hyundai Motorsport now faces the busiest time of the development phase ahead of its entry into next year's FIA World Rally Championship.
“With new features on the car at every test session, there's a lot of work to be done, not only on the ground, but also back at the factory in order to get the car ready,” Nandan concluded, “There's a great team effort and everyone is doing his best.”
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