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Hyundai reveals WRC i20 Coupe

By raccars Published

Hyundai i20

Three-door hatch is one of the favourites in the championship after Volkswagen’s departure.

The Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC has just been revealed at the Monza racing circuit in Italy and looks set to be a serious contender in the 2017 World Rally Championship. The new i20 Coupe replaces the retired Hyundai i20 WRC and will be a favourite in the championship after the recent announcement that Volkswagen will not be taking part next year.

The three-door Coupe is said to be a significantly enhanced version of Hyundai’s outgoing car and uses the same structure as the five-door 2016 i20, although it does conform to WRC’s less restrictive aerodynamic and engine regulations for 2017. The Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC boasts a far bigger rear wing than the retired model and its front bumper has substantial, swooping winglets to help it work the air harder than before.

There is also a larger restrictor for the 1.6-litre engine as it increases in diameter by 3mm to reach 36mm. This allows it to produce 376bhp, which is considerably more than the 330bhp offered by the 2016 car. All four of the car’s wheels are driven through a manual paddle-shift six-speed gearbox, which is the same configuration as the 2016 car. However, drivers can now make use of its active central differential to adjust torque percentages sent to either end of the car.

Hyundai set for speed boost

The team’s leaders and drivers have said that the 2017 car’s upgraded drive train should improve straight-line speed, although they all admitted that this may not be noticeable to those watching the action. All of them agreed, however, that the enhanced aerodynamic package will increase overall pace and will allow next year’s Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC to cut stage times by one second per kilometre.

Michel Nandan, the team principal for Hyundai Motorsport, said that the new era presented a new technical challenge which the team had ‘tackled with enthusiasm'. He said that the team planned to make use of all of the knowledge and experience it had gained over the last three seasons. And since all teams are starting afresh, Hyundai is on an equal footing with the rest.

Gyoo-Heon Choi, the president of Hyundai Motorsport, took his predictions a step further, however, stating that the team’s aim was ‘to be champion’. He said that the team wanted to be on top and was taking the challenge ‘very seriously’. Choi added that Hyundai Motorsport was investing substantially in order to maximise its chances of success. Choi also recognised that the team has drawn extensively upon the last three years' experience.

Miles on the clock

The Hyundai challenger for 2017 has already travelled almost 4,000 miles in testing but it will make its WRC debut in next year’s opening round in January’s Monte Carlo rally. Hyundai Motorsport will be putting out three of the i20 Coupe WRCs and the driving team will stay the same, comprising Thierry Neuville, Dani Sordo and Hayden Padden, together with co-drivers Nicolas Gilsoul, Marc Marti and John Kennard.

Despite winning the title this year, Volkswagen will not be taking part next year, meaning that the biggest challenge facing the German-based team from Hyundai Motorsport is likely to come from Citroen, Ford and Toyota. The latter is making a return to the WRC after a 17-year break.

Sébastien Ogier, this year’s driver’s champion, has still not been officially linked with any team for next year, although it is thought that the Frenchman will get behind the wheel for Citroen. Hyundai's Nandan said that it was ‘a pity’ that his team would not be competing against this year’s champions, Volkswagen, since everybody wants to beat the last winners. However, he added that next year’s championship looks set to be ‘very competitive, anticipating a very close race from the start of the season and predicting that Citroen would be ‘very fast’.

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