BARELY a week after Hyundai’s all-new i20 road car made its global debut at the Paris motor show, the company’s motorsport division has revealed it had already tested a prototype for its next World Rally Car.

Hyundai Motorsport announced French driver Bryan Bouffier conducted the first shakedown of the car in Germany last month, checking systems and collecting data for further development tests this year and next.

No date has been set for the car to replace the current i20 WRC, which won its first event in the hands of Thierry Neuville in Germany in August and was driven at the recent Coates Hire Rally Australia by Neuville, Australian Chris Atkinson and New Zealander Hayden Paddon.

The new third-generation i20 road car is a complete overhaul of the current model. Hyundai says the WRC version incorporates all the learning and feedback the team has collected during its first WRC season.

Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “It’s always an important moment when you take a car to the road for the first time and this one was no exception.

“We have been working on the development of our future WRC car for some time now and we were finally able to put the first prototype on its wheels last month. The data and experience that we have accumulated during our debut WRC season has contributed to our approach with this new car.”

The current i20 World Rally Car made its competitive debut at this year’s Rallye Monte-Carlo and has been been developed throughout the season. It scored a surprise one-two result at Rallye Deutschland in August, with Dani Sordo joining Neuville on the podium.

Nandan added that the team was in no rush to replace the existing model.

“We will introduce it in competition when we are absolutely sure that it is ready to replace the current i20 World Rally Car,” he said.

“It’s a totally different car compared to current WRC model. The platform is different, the car is longer, lower and wider and it features a new engine, transmission and other components.

“Of course, we are just at the beginning of a long process and we will continue to work hard on development and continue testing in the next months and throughout 2015.”

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Chris Nixon

Chris Nixon is Media Manager for Kennards Hire Rally Australia.

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