The cancellation of Rally China has given Hyundai Motorsport a handy break to test the final specifications of its new 2017 WRC challenger, and to prepare the 2016 i20 WRC car for the Rallye de France that starts on 29 September on the island Corsica.
Their first aim when they head to Corsica next week for the Tour de Corse, the tenth round in this year’s championship, is to repeat or better their successes in Rally Germany, where Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville took second and third place for the team’s first double podium of the current WRC season.
Work on the new 2017 WRC car began back in April, using a mule for initial tests. Since June, a second evolution of the 2017 i20 WRC car was put through its paces in private testing. Hyundai Motorsport’s test driver Kevin Abbring has carried out most of the driving duties to date, although both Hayden Paddon and Dani Sordo got their first taste of the new car after Rally Germany.
A pre-event test in Catalunya was also held in the final week of August in preparation for this year’s Rally Spain.
With no Rally China to contest, Hyundai Motorsport found themselves with a longer-than-expected break before Corsica. Sordo and Paddon, who have already signed contracts with Hyundai Motorsport until 2018, and Neuville have used the opportunity to spend time with their friends and families.
The cancellation of Rally China due to torrential rain and flooding of roads, has required a change in Hyundai Motorsport’s logistics arrangements. The six 12 m-containers, which are shipped at the start of the year to cover the overseas events, are now sent directly to Australia for the final round of the season.
About 50 tonnes of material is sent by freight, including reconnaissance cars, spare parts, tools and the service area and hospitality equipment. The three 2016 i20 WRC cars will be sent by air from Europe together with 4 500 kg of parts shortly before the last rally in Australia.
With the Corsica, Spain and Great Britain rounds of the WRC separated by a week each, and with Australia shortly after, it will be the busiest period for the Hyundai Motorsport team. The mechanics will face the unenviable task of rebuilding the New Generation i20 WRCs in only four days between each event.
The Tour de Corse will also represent an important milestone for the Customer Racing department. The New Generation i20 R5 will make its WRC2 debut with three cars entered into the rally, subject to a timely completion of the homologation process.
“The summer months have offered little respite for our team as we enter an exciting, but busy period for all of us in Alzenau,” said Michel Nandan, team principal. “We are pushing hard to continue our most successful WRC season, as we seek to score more podiums in the final four rounds.
“Our crews have a busy testing period to prepare for Corsica and Spain. We have also been preparing for next season with ongoing development of our 2017 car. The next test will be with the final specification so it will be an important part of our preparatory phase.
“Finally, we celebrate an important milestone in our Customer Racing activities, as three cars are entered in Corsica, one by Hyundai Motorsport and two by customer teams. It will be the moment where we truly see the fruits of everyone’s hard work. These are proud moments for everyone involved with Hyundai Motorsport.”