Hyundai i20 WRC - the most successful Korean rally car ever
Hyundai i20 WRC is the youngest car in the current World Rally Championship line-up. It debuted in WRC in January 2014, scoring three wins since then in the hands of Thierry Neuville and Hayden Paddon. Those victories make the i20 WRC the most successful car of the Korean manufacturer in the world of rally, because its predecessor Accent WRC, active from 2000 to 2003, never scored any victories.
Hyundai’s WRC return after ten years
The i20 WRC was unveiled at the 2012 Paris Motor Show when Hyundai announced that it will return to the World Rally Championship with the German-based team. The new Hyundai’s rally car, after ten years of absence in the World Championship, is developed according to the new rules from the 2013 season, so it has a 1.6-litre turbo engine, same as its rivals VW Polo, Ford Fiesta and Citroen DS3.
More than 300hp from a 1.6L turbo engine
Based on a regular five-door road version of the i20, the i20 WRC was first stripped out and then strengthened and tuned in all areas. The 1.6 Turbo GDI engine produces about 300 hp and it has 400 Nm of maximum torque. A four-wheel-driven car with a six-speed sequential gearbox accelerates to 100 km/h in less than 4 seconds, with a maximum speed of approximately 225 km/h.
The weight is limited to 1200 kilos minimum (without crew). On the 8×18 wheels for tarmac (and 7×15 for gravel) Hyundai uses Michelin tires. 355mm (300mm at gravel) ventilated Brembo disc brakes have the task of stopping the car.
First WRC podium at Rally Mexico
The car with such specifications had a competitive debut at the 2014 Rallye Monte-Carlo, the first round of the 2014 WRC season, with Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo as drivers. The cars #7 and #8 didn’t finish the rally: Neuville because of an accident, Sordo due to alternator problems.
At Rally Mexico, the third event of the championship, Neuville finished third and scored the first podium for the new car. It was also the first ever podium for Hyundai in the WRC because the previous car (Accent) wasn’t better than fourth.
Six drivers in the 2014 WRC season
Neuville was the main driver for Hyundai Motorsport while three other drivers shared the #8 car – Dani Sordo, Juho Hanninen and Chris Atkinson. Hyundai also entered the third #20 car at selected events, with Sordo, Hayden Paddon and Bryan Bouffier as drivers.
All Hyundai drivers managed to score points during the debut season. Hanninen scored points four times in six events, and Atkinson was in the points both times he drove. Paddon took points five times and Bouffier was among points scorers one time. The most experienced drivers – Neuville and Sordo were of course the most successful.
Maiden World Rally victory for Hyundai in Germany
After one more podium (third place in Poland), the greatest ever victory for Hyundai followed at the 2014 ADAC Rallye Deutschland. Neuville won the event and Sordo added the second place for double triumph.
In its debut season, Hyundai Motorsport finished fourth in the Manufacturers’ standings, with Thierry Neuville taking the sixth place in the drivers’ classification.
Progress in the 2015 WRC season
For the 2015 WRC season, Hyundai again had three cars (#7, #8 and #20), with three drivers (Neuville, Sordo and Paddon) for the full season and Kevin Abbring in one event (Rally Sweden). Neuville was on podium two times (Sweden and Italy) while Sordo and Paddon each scored one podium.
At Sardinia, both Paddon and Neuville were on the podium, finishing second and third behind Sebastien Ogier. At the end of the season, Hyundai Motorsport progressed to third place in the Manufacturers’ standings, Neuville was again sixth.
Two wins in 2016 with the new generation i20 WRC
The 2016 WRC season saw i20 WRC updated and the second generation was introduced, based on the new generation of the i20 road car. Besides design, there were no changes to the hardware, because a 1.6-liter turbo engine, paddle-shifted sequential gearbox and mechanical differentials are still in the use. Hyundai’s engineer said that the new car is stiffer than the first generation i20 WRC.
Hyundai Motorsport entered the 2016 championship season with four cars and two teams, combining four drivers from the previous season. Neuville finished third in the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo, Paddon was second at Rally Sweden and then Rally Argentina followed in April, where Hayden Paddon scored his first ever WRC victory and second win for Hyundai. Two rounds later, at Rally d’Italia Sardegna, Hyundai i20 was victorious again, this time in the hands of Thierry Neuville.