Hyundai Motorsport has unveiled its new i20 WRCar, with two of the new models to make their first race appearance at Monte Carlo in January next year. The 2016 i20 WRC will also create a record as the shortest-lived WRCar in history, being replaced in 2017 due to new rules.
Although official details of engine and suspension configuration changes have not been made available, Trailing Throttle did speak to Hyundai Motorsport team principal Michel Nandan and current Hyundai driver Hayden Paddon at Rally Finland this year about their experiences with testing and development of the new i20 WRC.
Paddon, who relocated from New Zealand to Germany where Hyundai Motorsport is based, performed some of the test drive duties and provided feedback on the new five-door i20 WRC.
Paddon’s main criticism of the 2015 i20 WRC was its tendency to understeer and lack of power higher in the revs, although that did not hold Hayden back from six top-five finishes this year. We can also attest his confidence to throw the car into corners without hesitation after co-driving with him on a test stage in Finland.
Improving the suspension and geometry of the car was a little tricky, says Nandan: “The guys sometimes say it feels like the car is understeering a little, but then sometimes it’s too much. It’s hard because every race is very different as the surface changes and the suspension reacts differently. But we are working on that for next year’s car (2016 i20 WRC) and this is why we are testing so much.”
Purposefully a little vague to directly comment on any flaws in the current i20’s geometry, it’s clear the Hyundai Motorsport team is looking to improve in any possible way, even with yet another car due in 2017.
“We’ve changed the inlet size on the turbo, just a little bit, and altered power delivery so that we have more power higher in the rev range”, Nandan told TT.
Over 8000km of testing was performed for the 2016 i20 WRC, which Hyundai Motorsport, who finished third in the 2015 WRC Manufacturers Championship, will be hoping can get them into the top two. Volkswagen has won the title the last three seasons, but with Citroen running a compromised 2016 season and M-Sport re-emerging as a top contender Hyundai Motorsport might seize the opportunity to wrestle up the manufacturer ladder.
The media event for the new i20 WRC in Alzenau, Germany also unveiled the lead-entry Shell sponsored model’s new livery. Livery for the updated Mobis-sponsored i20 WRC is yet to be shown.
While only two of the new models will run in Monte Carlo, all three will be ready to race from round two in Swedish snow.
Hyundai has also retained its three-driver line-up with Hayden Paddon, Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo to compete in all races next year, while current Hyundai R5 test driver Kevin Abbring will make occasional appearances. Hyundai is keeping the running order of drivers open and picking running order round-by-round, which worked well for the team during the second half of the 2015 season.
“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,” Nandan said.
The new i20 WRC car is a firm announcement of Hyundai’s commitment to the World Rally Championship and pursuit of more podium finishes. With yet another car to be announced for the 2017 season and an R5 car slated for release mid-next year, the Korean manufacturer is creating respect as a top-class rally manufacturer.