For those unfamiliar, the i20 is Hyundai's rival to the likes of the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta for Asian, European and other overseas markets. The Korean automaker introduced a new version of the i20 late last year, including a new three-door version that was supposed to serve as the basis for the new rally machine, but production delays meant Hyundai couldn't homologate the rally version before the end of this season as originally planned. So instead it will base the new competition machine on the five-door version and aim to launch it in time for the start of next season.
"We had hoped to introduce the car later this season but unfortunately an issue with the homologation schedule - related to production of the three-door road version – will delay our programme," said Hyundai Motorsport chief Michel Nandan. "We have therefore opted to continue focus on the five-door version of the New Generation i20 WRC which will compete at Rallye Monte-Carlo next year."
In the meantime, as you can see from the photos above, development continues apace. Test driver Kevin Abbring and his co-pilot Sebastian Marshall are being charged with its shakedown, along with Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul – the same duo that won the 2014 Rally Germany and which are currently ranked third in the 2015 World Rally Championship after placing second at round two in Sweden. They'll have to make do with the current car for the rest of the season, which continues with the fourth round later this month in Argentina.
- Hyundai Motorsport has recently carried out a four-day test in Spain with an upgraded version of the New Generation i20 WRC
- Hyundai Motorsport confirms it will ramp up development of a five-door version of the New Generation i20 car in preparation for a full season of 2016 FIA World Rally Championship
- The current Hyundai i20 WRC will run throughout the rest of the 2015 season
April 10, 2015 – The Hyundai Motorsport team has recently completed a four-day test of the New Generation i20 WRC car in the Spanish region of Almeria. The test marked the next important phase of development for the car, which will make its debut in the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship.
The team's test driver Kevin Abbring and his co-driver Sebastian Marshall were at the wheel of the New Generation i20 WRC together with Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul. Work focused on engine and chassis development, as well as altitude testing with the latest iteration of the car, which has been upgraded compared to the version used in previous tests.
Hyundai Motorsport has established a detailed testing plan for the New Generation i20 WRC and had hoped to introduce the car later this season. However, there has been a change on the planned homologation of the New Generation i20 WRC due to production schedule. The team will now shift the target to debut the New Generation i20 WRC at the start of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship at Rallye Monte-Carlo.
In addition, a series of further upgrades will be introduced to the current Hyundai i20 WRCs in the remaining rallies of 2015 in a bid to help the team fight for podiums regularly in only its second season in the competitive World Rally Championship.
Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: "We had a very detailed week of testing planned in Spain recently, as we put an upgraded version of our New Generation i20 WRC through its paces in the Almeria region. Kevin and Thierry worked on engine and chassis development, as well as altitude tests, which will help us to further develop the car as we move through 2015. We had hoped to introduce the new car later this season but unfortunately an issue with the homologation schedule - related to production of the three-door road version – will delay our programme. We have therefore opted to continue focus on the five-door version of the New Generation i20 WRC which will compete at Rallye Monte-Carlo next year. This revised schedule gives us extra time to ensure the car is where we want it to be performance-wise. At the same time, the current Hyundai i20 WRC will undergo a number of important updates which we hope will keep us in the fight for podiums this season."