Hyundai Motorsport has kicked off the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) by unveiling its brand new car, the New Generation i20 WRC, in front of 200 assembled media and guests at the team's factory in Alzenau, Germany today.
The presentation venue was particularly poignant and took place in the heart of what will be Hyundai Motorsport's customer racing headquarters as the birthplace of the company's upcoming R5 rally car, which is also based on the New Generation i20.
The formal reveal of the five-door New Generation i20 WRC marks the opening of an exciting new chapter in the short history of Hyundai Motorsport, building on two successful seasons in the competitive WRC environment. In that time, the team has undertaken a steep learning curve to establish itself as a genuine competitor against tough opposition.
Following its foundation-laying year in 2013, the team quickly developed a brand new WRC car from scratch for its first season of competition. The car proved to be both quick and reliable, securing a maiden win in Germany. From there, the team enjoyed a more consistent second season, scoring four podium finishes and fighting for second place in the Manufacturers' Championship right up to the season finale.
In early 2015, the team committed to a year-long test and development programme for a WRC specification of the road-going New Generation i20, with its competitive debut set for Rallye Monte-Carlo 2016. The New Generation i20 WRC has already accumulated 8,000km of testing prior to today's launch, and has proven to be quicker than its predecessor, with the team's drivers also praising improved drivability.
The new car is the result of the Hyundai Motorsport's evolution since 2013 and although the team is still young, it is far more established in the WRC community. This growth is also reflected in the team's bolder ambitions for the 2016 season, namely to fight at the front in every stage and to mount a heightened Championship assault.
Team Principal Michel Nandan said: "It is a special moment for all of us at Hyundai Motorsport to reveal the New Generation i20 WRC to the world today in our own home. We are entering an exciting phase in our young team's journey, which I think will reinforce our commitment and ambition in the competitive WRC community. We have come a long way since our inaugural foundation year, and our performance in last season's Championship gave us renewed optimism for the future. The New Generation i20 WRC is the product of a full year of development and with a more experienced team of staff, we should now raise our objectives to be more confident to fight at the front. The competition remains strong and we know our manufacturer rivals will not ease in their pursuit for victory but we want to take the fight to them in 2016."
Hyundai Motorsport will field three cars in every round of the 2016 Championship, with Dani Sordo, Hayden Paddon and Thierry Neuville all confirmed for a full season of WRC. From Monte-Carlo in January to a new-look season finale in Australia, while also taking in a brand new event in China, the trio of drivers will share the #3, #4 and #20 cars during the season. The precise car-driver composition will differ from event to event, offering the team full flexibility in its Championship strategy. The team will begin its third season with two New Generation i20 WRCs and one previous model at Rallye Monte-Carlo before increasing to three identical cars from Rally Sweden.