Next month will see the competitive début in WRC2 of Hyundai’s New Generation i20 R5 as the manufacturer plans to run three cars for the 2016 Tour de Corse – Rallye de France.
Kevin Abbring and Seb Marshall will be leading the Hyundai Motorsport efforts as official flag bearers for the company while there will also be two customer entries.
Abbring has been an important part to the development of the New Generation i20 R5 having completed over 5,000km of testing for Hyundai during the seven month programme.
“It will be great to finally drive the New Generation i20 R5 directly against the competition” said Abbring. “We’ve been testing since January and it’s all been building up to this point, so to be part of the car’s WRC2 debut is a great way for us to celebrate our achievement in reaching this point in the project.
“We know we have a strong package for tarmac, but Corsica is one of the toughest rallies of the season. While it would obviously be great for me to come away with a strong result, the weekend will be all about the team and the i20 R5.”
Stéphane Sarrazin and Jacques-Julien Renucci head up the customer entry, with the Frenchman having previously taken victory in 2014 when it was a non-WRC round.
Fabio Andolfi and Manuel Fenoli will be in the other customer car as they take their first start in an R5-spec vehicle. They will be run by HMI and ACI Team Italia, supported by ACI Sport, the national motorsport body in their home country. Andolfi currently lies fourth in the points standing for the WRC3 championship.
The two customer entries will benefit from a dedicated engineer along with specialist technicians who will be on hand to make sure the cars are as competitive as possible throughout their WRC2 début.
“With the competitive début of the New Generation i20 R5 this year’s Tour de Corse – Rallye de France will be the biggest event in the history of Hyundai Motorsport.” said Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Michel Nandan.
“The foundation of the Customer Racing department was an important expansion for the company, and we will have an unprecedented six Hyundai Motorsport built entries at the start of the rally. For the first time we will compete with a car other than our WRC challenger. In taking on the R5 category and the WRC2 championship we have targeted one of the most competitive areas of modern motorsport.”
Nandan is confident the new cars will meet the homologation process in time, despite the short schedule.
“Due to the tight deadlines which have been a constant part of this project we are still awaiting final confirmation of the car’s homologation for competition from the FIA. However, with preparations in the workshop well advanced the New Generation i20 R5 should be ready to compete in France.”
Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing manager Andrea Adamo added: “For the rally weekend we will have two aims: we enter to prove the performance of the car, but we also want to show the level of support Hyundai Motorsport is capable of delivering to our customers.”