It’s a pretty big deal when a major automaker joins a top-flight racing series, and so it was when Hyundai entered the World Rally Championship with the i20 WRC last year. And while delays have postponed the arrival of its replacement, development presses on.
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.