Earlier today Hyundai Motorsport took the wraps off its 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) contender, the New Generation i20 WRC, at the team's factory in Alzenau, Germany.
From a standing start in 2013, the team developed a brand new WRC car from scratch for its first season of competition. The car secured a maiden win in Germany in 2014. 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.
This past year, the team has also been 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.
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. The precise car-driver composition will differ from event to event. 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.
The team has also retained the services of rising Dutch star Kevin Abbring, who will remain as Hyundai Motorsport Test Driver. Abbring will contest selected WRC rounds in a fourth car, but his primary focus will be on managing development of the team's 2017 WRC car and R5 activities.
The R5 project, run under Hyundai Motorsport's customer racing division, will roll out in the next few weeks. There will be a development phase during the first half of 2016, homologation of the car in mid-2016, with orders being accepted in the second part of the year.