Hyundai Motorsport rolls out ’16 WRC challengers

    • Hyundai unveils third-season i20 WRC cars
    • Launch event at Hyundai Motorsport factory
    • Three drivers will contest all 14 rounds of 2016 championship
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THE DRIVERS AND THEIR CARS: Three full-time and one test/backup driver for the 2016 Hyundai World Rally team. From left are Haydon Paddon, Kevin Abbring (test), Theirry Neuville and Dani Sordo. Image: Hyundai Motorsport

ALZENAU, Germany – Hyundai Motorsport has kicked off the 2016 World Rally championship by unveiling its 2016 cars, New Generation i20 WRC
units, in front of more than 150 media and other guests at the team’s factory in Alzenau, Germany.

“The formal reveal,” Hyundai said, “is the start of an exciting new chapter in the short history of Hyundai Motorsport, building on two successful WRC seasons during which the team underwent a steep learning curve to establish itself as a genuine competitor against tough opposition.”

Jin (James) Kim, vice-president and head of operations for Hyundai Motor Company in Africa and the Middle East, told The Corner: “Our ongoing involvement with WRC is a real brand-shaper, something which really appeals to our young target audience. We’ll continue to invest in this sector of our business – this special i20 is testament to this.”

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READY FOR SEASON 3: Hyundai will field three New Generation i20 cars in the 2016 World Rally series – with a special R5 car for private rally teams to come later. Image: Hyundai Motorsport

After a trial season in 2013 the team quickly developed a brand-new WRC car from scratch for its first competitive season – 2014.

“The car proved quick and reliable,” the automaker said, “and won in Germany in August 2014. From there it enjoyed a more consistent second season – four podium finishes and fighting for second in the Manufacturers’ championship right to the finale.”

Early in 2015 the team committed to a year-long test and development programme for a WRC spec road-going New Generation i20, its ompetitive debut set for Monte Carlo 2016. “The new i20 has already accumulated 8000km of testing,” Hyundai said, “and has proved quicker than its predecessor. The drivers praised its improved drivability.

THREE CARS FOR EACH ROUND

“Although the team is still young – each was at the launch event – it is far more established in the WRC community. This growth is also reflected in the team’s bolder ambitions for the 2016 season: to race at the front in every stage and to mount a heightened championship assault.”

Hyundai Motorsport will field three cars in each round of the 2016 season with Dani Sordo, Hayden Paddon and Thierry Neuville confirmed for a full season of rallying. From Monte Carlo in January to a new-look season finale in Australia, and taking in a new event in China, the three will share the number 3, 4 and 20 cars during the season.

The precise car/driver composition will differ event to event to create full team flexibility in the championship strategy. The team will begin 2016 with two New Generation i20 cars and a 2016 unit but have three identical cars from from Sweden onwards.

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THREE NAMES, THREE DRIVERS:  Sordo, Paddon and Neuville – each a top name in World rallying – will alternate cars during the season.  Image: Hyundai Motoresport

The 2016 cars have a different livery for the five-door new generation i20 WRC car, shown in public for the first time at the launch.

The team has also retained Hollander Kevin Abbring as a Hyundai Motorsport test driver. He will contest some rounds of the season in a fourth car as part of his agreement but his primary focus will be on managing development of the team’s 2017 car and R5 – the latter also based on the new i20 but racing under the banner of Hyundai Motorsport’s customer racing division.

There will be an R5 development phase during the first half of 2016 with homologation mid-2016 after which the order books will be open for private WRC drivers.

Hyundai Motorsport’s immediate focus, however, is on Monte Carlo in January 2016. The Corner will be watching…

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