Hyundai rallies for big launch
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Covers to come off Hyundai's latest WRC weapon today
The eagerly-awaited second generation Hyundai i20 WRC -- and most likely details of how Hyundai Motorsport plans to attack the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship -- will be unveiled today.
Hyundai will launch its new rally contender during a media event at its Alzenau motorsport headquarters near Frankfurt, although a concept version of the new car was shown at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September.
It had originally been expected the new i20 WRC would make its debut during the later rounds of the 2015 championship. The debut is now confirmed for the Rallye Monte Carlo 2016 season-opener which starts on January 18.
Last week the team carried out its pre-Monte Carlo tests with Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo sharing the new car, while Kiwi driver Hayden Paddon got his first taste of the snow and ice-covered tarmac roads driving the 2015 car.
Paddon told Driven recently he has so far driven the new car on three occasions -- twice on gravel and once on tarmac. Next week he's scheduled to compete a snow test as preparation for Rally Sweden in February.
Hyundai says its development programme for the new i20 WRC began in March and the car has now completed more than 8000km in testing. Venues in Germany, France, Finland and Spain were used concurrently with Hyundai Motorsport's 2015 WRC campaign. The team recently submitted the necessary documentation to the FIA for homologation of the car.
"Since March, we have completed around 8000km in stage conditions with the car, on both gravel and tarmac," said team principal Michel Nandan.
"For a young team like ours, to run an intensive testing programme alongside a heightened WRC campaign has been quite an achievement.
"We have covered different types of terrain and rally conditions in testing so far, but we haven't yet run the car on snow, so that's something we will carry out later this month, both as part of the car development but also as a pre-event test for Rally Sweden."
There are significant changes to the new car which is built on the latest generation i20 hatchback platform (not yet on New Zealand roads) which gives the car a slightly longer wheelbase.
Most significantly the five-door i20 bodystyle is the basis for the new rally car -- making it unique among the current generation of three-door WRC contenders.
Hyundai is expected to confirm the 2016 car has a new engine, improved weight distribution and increased suspension travel.
A new team livery is rumoured and the media presentation could explain how the team plans to rotate the trio of drivers between the two positions nominated to score Manufacturer's points as the season progresses.
Hyundai Motorsport may also confirm more details of its plan to build an R5 version of the i20 eligible for WRC2 and regional championship rallying.