Posted Sep 28th 2012 4:20PM
At virtually the same moment that it was revealed Hyundai was exiting all motorsports activities in North America, the Korean automaker was on stage at the Paris Motor Show making a major commitment to one of the most exciting – and costliest – racing series the globe has to offer, the World Rally Championship. Showing this i20 WRC racecar mockup (note the lack of an interior), Hyundai announced it is poised to return to the gravel-spitting, sideways-sliding yumpfest in short order.
Return, you say? Yes – even before its meteoric rise as an automaker, Hyundai was toiling away in the series' F2 class back back in the late 90s. The team then graduated to the premier series in 2000, campaigning an Accent hatchback until 2003, at which point it ceased motorsports activities.
Specs for the rallygoing i20 haven't been disclosed, but in order to meet regulations, this Hyundai will need to rely on a 1.6-litre engine, presumably turbocharged to around 300 horsepower. All-wheel drive and a sequential gearbox are givens as well.
Hyundai has not yet announced when the i20 WRC will compete, nor has the FIA governing body granted it official entry into the series, though one is surely coming.
After a few lean years in terms of manufacturer support, the WRC is poised for a bit of a rebirth, with new teams to be fielded from Mini with its Countryman racer and a Toyota entrant based on its Yaris subcompact.
Related GalleryHyundai i20 WRC: Paris 2012 Photos
HYUNDAI READY FOR WRC RETURN
Hyundai is poised to return to the World Rally Championship (WRC)
Rally-ready model, based on New i20, unveiled at Paris Motor Show
Realisation of long-term strategy to set-up in-house WRC team in Europe
Hyundai is poised to return to the FIA World Rally Championship (better known as the WRC) and has today unveiled a rally-ready version based on the New i20 at the Paris Motor Show.
The WRC is one of the world's toughest motorsport series, and the vehicle has been engineered to overcome the extreme terrains and weather conditions that competitors face.
Following its withdrawal from motorsport in 2003, Hyundai's long-term goal was to set up an in-house WRC team in Europe and develop a performance rally car, resulting in the WRC i20's debut in Paris.
Mark Hall, Marketing Director at Hyundai Motor Europe, commented: "The World Rally Championship is recognised as one of the most dramatic sporting series on Earth. It's a spectacle filled with excitement and dynamism − the perfect embodiment of the Hyundai brand.
"The WRC also offers the most technologically-diverse challenge for an automotive manufacturer. Our participation will demonstrate Hyundai's engineering excellence and durability, and will also help to enhance our passenger vehicles in future."
Hyundai's rally history
The company's involvement in the sport began in 1998, when it competed in the F2 class of the WRC for two seasons. In 1999, the team announced it would step up to the top class in 2000, rallying a fully-developed WRC car based on the three-door Accent, which competed until 2003.
About the WRC
The WRC is regulated and controlled by the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), the governing body for worldwide motorsport.
Current World Rally cars are based on 1.6-litre production models, and feature dramatic aerodynamic enhancements, 4x4 systems, turbochargers, sequential gearboxes and other high-tech additions.
Hyundai's sporting sponsorships
As well as motorsport, Hyundai is proud to be associated with a number of other sports. A long-term, committed partner of football, Hyundai has been an official UEFA EUROTOP partner since 1999, with the current agreement extending until 2017, ensuring Hyundai's involvement at all major European Championship tournaments, including this summer's UEFA EURO 2012™. The company has also served as the official automotive supplier to FIFA-sanctioned events around the world since the 2002 FIFA World Cup™ in Korea and Japan, under an agreement that will take in tournaments up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup™ in Qatar.
Hyundai is also the exclusive automotive sponsor of Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) ski jumping competitions around the world. The partnership will cover more than 80 ski-jumping events.