Hyundai Motorsport has unveiled its new i20 World Rally championship challenger which is set to make its debut at the Rallye Monte Carlo in January.
The new five-door New Generation i20 WRC machine is based off of the latest generation of the Hyundai i20 and its launch had been delayed after initially being planned for midway through 2015.
The new car has undergone a rigorous testing schedule, clocking up over 8,000km, and the manufacturer is confident the new model will prove them with a stronger challenge in 2016.
Hyundai Motorsport team principal Michel Nandan hails the revealing of the new i20 WRC car as a 'special moment' for the team and feels with a full year of development under its belt alongside its experience gained since returning to WRC in 2014 it can produce a strong challenge for rally wins and titles in 2016.
“It is a special moment for all of us at Hyundai Motorsport to reveal the New Generation i20 WRC to the world today in our own home,” Nandan said. “We are entering an exciting phase in our young team's journey, which I think will reinforce our commitment and ambition in the competitive WRC community.
“We have come a long way since our inaugural foundation year, and our performance in last season's Championship gave us renewed optimism for the future. The New Generation i20 WRC is the product of a full year of development and with a more experienced team of staff, we should now raise our objectives to be more confident to fight at the front.
“The competition remains strong and we know our manufacturer rivals will not ease in their pursuit for victory but we want to take the fight to them in 2016."
Hyundai also confirms it will retain the same driver line-up of Dani Sordo, Thierry Neuville and Hayden Paddon, who have all been confirmed for a full season in WRC next year and all three will compete in the new i20 WRC car.
Nandan says the driver configuration will be decided on a round-by-round basis. Under the WRC regulations only two drivers are allowed to score manufacturer championship points and Hyundai Motorsport will rotate between Sordo, Neuville and Paddon in a similar pattern seen in 2015.
"We have worked with Dani, Hayden and Thierry for two seasons now, so it is a real benefit to us that we can continue our partnership with all of them into 2016 with the New Generation i20 WRC,” Nandan confirmed. “They have all experienced the new car and given positive reviews, so I'm looking forward to seeing them on the stages this season. We have a strong pool of drivers with a range of experience and strengths.
“We will not constrain ourselves by fixing specific car line-ups at each rally, instead assembling the best composition for each event to maximise our Championship chances.
“All three drivers will contest all rounds, including the rally in China that will be new for everyone. They will have equal opportunities in the Drivers' Championship. We strongly believe that this is the best approach for us in our third season and we know the drivers will deliver to the best of their abilities in each rally. I'm convinced we have the most versatile driver line-up in WRC and we want to use that to our advantage."
Finally, Hyundai has also retained the Dutch star Kevin Abbring who will continue to act as the manufacturer's test driver while also competing in selected WRC rounds in a fourth car.
The team says his main responsibilities in 2016 will be to begin testing Hyundai's 2017 challenger ahead of the WRC regulations revamp which is to be implemented in 12 months time.
Abbring will also work on Hyundai's R5 activities, falling under the banner of Hyundai Motorsport's customer racing division, which will be launched in the coming weeks and the manufacturer forecasts the car will be ready for homologation by mid-2016.