The Korean manufacturer is ramping up its preparations for entry into top-level motorsport with the Hyundai i20 WRC
Matt Burt
9 April 2013

Hyundai has ramped up its preparations for a return to the World Rally Championship by appointing a number of key technical staff.

The Korean manufacturer confirmed last year that it will enter a Hyundai i20 WRC in the WRC in 2014 and, since the appointment of team principal Michel Nandan in January, it has been busy building a bespoke facility in Alzenau, Germany, and getting the i20 WRC ready for testing later in the year.

Experienced rally technician Stephane Girard, formerly of Subaru, Citroën and Peugeot, has recently been appointed as engine manager and will work with chief designer Bertrand Vallat on the engineering team. Vallat is another former Peugeot Sport employee and worked on the Peugeot 207 S2000 rally car.

Alain Penasse will start a new role of team manager on 22 April. The 51-year-old Belgian has previously been involved with Toyota and Peugeot, as well as tyre manufacturer Michelin and as an organiser of the Ypres Rally.

Hyundai's workshop will be headed by Ernst Kopp, formerly involved with Toyota’s rally, Le Mans and F1 projects. Stefan Henrich has transferred across from Hyundai Motor Europe to become marketing and PR chief.

Team principal Michel Nandan said: “We’ve been evolving rapidly since the beginning of the year and made great progress in filling all the main roles to establish our core team. We’re facing a big and exciting challenge in building a team from scratch, and we have now only nine months to prepare for next year.

"I’m now surrounded by the best people in the business and I’m confident we’ll be ready to meet our ambitious goal to be ready at the start of the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship. While we have a very busy year ahead of us, I believe that team-work together with shared commitment and passion for motorsport are the keys for success."

The Hyundai i20 WRC has been seen in two development phases, with the most recent appearing at the Geneva motor show last month.

There has been speculation that the team is gearing up for an early competitive debut on Rally GB in November, although team sources say a decision on that will not be made until testing starts in the summer.



Our Verdict

Hyundai i20

Hyundai’s i20 is all about quality and value rather than desirability, although a nip and tuck in 2012 has helped

Join the debate


9 April 2013

Why not a Veloster?

If this was meant to be their sports coupe?

How successful is WRC to marketing these days? Since the Subaru / Mitsubishi 90s heyday, few would associate Citroen with rallying yet they have been very successful.

10 April 2013

sirwiggum wrote:

Why not a Veloster?

If this was meant to be their sports coupe?

How successful is WRC to marketing these days? Since the Subaru / Mitsubishi 90s heyday, few would associate Citroen with rallying yet they have been very successful.

Probably because it fits the rules better than the Veloster and from an engineering basis the slightly shorter wheel base is better for agility.

I do have to agree, certainly in the UK, WRC marketing stands for very little, even if it does have a small loyal band of followers.  in the rest of the world though, I am not so sure.

One thing I do know is there must be something to get out of the championship as VW wouldn't have put together a campaign if there wern't.



It's all about the twisties........

10 April 2013

It’s great to see another Manufacturer getting in to the WRC it can only help to make the sport and the competition more interesting.   If only the media would get behind the WRC and provide better TV coverage then we would probably see more manufactures taking part, more marketing spend which creates more interest and more manufactures………..  

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