HYUNDAI BECAME THE FIRST MANUFACTURER TO SHOW THE FINAL VERSION OF ITS 2017 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDER WHEN IT UNVEILED ITS I20 COUPE WORLD RALLY CAR IN ITALY THIS MORNING (THURSDAY).
Drivers Thierry Neuville, Hayden Paddon and Dani Sordo revealed the team’s third new World Rally Car in four seasons at Monza race circuit. The three-door i20 has been built to exciting new regulations which allow more powerful, lighter and aggressive looking cars.
Hyundai Motorsport president G.H.Choi told guests the development of three World Rally Cars and an R5 car, which was launched earlier this year, in such a short time period was difficult.
“It has been busy but finally our new baby is born. We aim to win the championship with our strong team and top level drivers and co-drivers,” said Choi, who emphasised Hyundai’s long-term commitment to WRC.
Team principal Michel Nandan said he wanted to build on the successes of 2016, in which the team finished second in the manufacturers’ standings while Neuville clinched the runners-up position in the drivers’ series.
“Despite the new regulations we have been able to carry over a lot of what we learned with the 2016 car. The new regulations have impacted a number of areas but it was important to start from a strong base,” he explained.
Nandan said the WRC’s new rules were a big technical challenge but one the team tackled with enthusiasm.
“It’s an opportunity to put into practice everything we have learned and experienced in the past three seasons. Having finished in second position in 2016 we want to demonstrate our ability to fight for the championship in 2017.
“We built positive momentum, particularly in the second part of the championship, so we want to continue that into 2017. We have the confidence in the team to compete at the front and to be seen as genuine contenders in WRC’s new era,” added Nandan.
The Korean manufacturer started testing the car in April and has completed more than 6,000km of development, with further work scheduled ahead of its debut at Rallye Monte-Carlo in January.
With teams now able to nominate three cars to score points in the manufacturers’ championship, the Korean company will compete under the single Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team banner after three seasons of competing with two squads.