PHOTO: The new-generation Hyundai i20 WRC testing in Spain (Hyundai pic)
HYUNDAI Motorsport has revealed its new-generation i20 car won’t debut until next year’s FIA World Rally Championship – and it will be a five-door not a three-door.
The i20 had been expected to appear late this season, but a Hyundai statement indicates the launch has been put back in favour of continued development of the current i20.
Hyundai reported it recently carried out a four-day test in Spain with Thierry Neuville and Kevin Abbring behind the wheel of an upgraded version of the new i20, which it has been developing for some months.
It will ramp up development of the five-door version of the car throughout this year in preparation for a full WRC campaign in 2016. This will run in parallel to continued evolution of the current i20 WRC with a series of further upgrades planned.
These include a paddle-shift transmission due to appear at Rally Argentina later this month, bringing the i20’s specifications into line with rivals.
In Spain, the team’s test driver Kevin Abbring and his co-driver Sebastian Marshall and Thierry Neuville with Nicolas Gilsoul were at the wheel. Work focused on engine and chassis development, as well as altitude testing with the latest iteration of the car, which has been upgraded over the version used in previous tests.
Hyundai’s introduction of the new car has been delayed by the homologation process, which was affected by the production schedule of the three-door roadgoing version. The team will now shift the target to debut the WRC car at Rallye Monte-Carlo next January.
A series of 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 WRC season.
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.
“This revised schedule gives us extra time to ensure the car is where we want it to be performance-wise.”