The new Hyundai i20 WRC that will form the basis of the Korean manufacturer’s assault on the 2016 World Rally Championship has been unveiled in Germany.
Having shelved plans to use the new three-door i20 Coupé bodystyle, the 2016 challenger has a five-door body. The car in this form will be used for a single season before the WRC technical regulations undergo a major overhaul for 2017.
The i20 WRC is equipped with a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine that produces air-restricted maximums of 300bhp at 6000rpm and 295lb ft at 5000rpm. It has a six-speed sequential gearbox and is four-wheel drive.
Hyundai has achieved one victory in its two seasons in the WRC, with Thierry Neuville triumphing in Germany in 2014. In 2015 it scored four podium positions but no wins, although a lot of the team’s efforts were focused on the 2016 car, which has undergone a year-long test and development programme.
Almost 5000 miles of testing have been completed so far and Hyundai claims the car has already “proven to be quicker than its predecessor”.
The team said its ambitions for next season were to “fight at the front in every stage and to mount a heightened championship assault”.
Team principal Michel Nandan said: "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 Motorsport will field three cars in every round of the 2016 Championship, with Dani Sordo, Hayden Paddon and Thierry Neuville all confirmed for full seasons.
With only two drivers eligible to score points in the manufacturers’ championship, Hyundai will shuffle the nominated drivers on a round-by-round basis.
The team will begin its third season with two new i20 WRCs and one old-style model at Rallye Monte-Carlo before introducing the third new car from the year’s second event in Sweden in February.
Nandan added: “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."
The team has also retained the services of rising Dutch star Kevin Abbring, who will remain as test driver. Abbring 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, as well development of its new i20 R5 car for customers.