Test drivers Bryan Bouffier and Juho Hänninen were at the wheel for a total of ten days with both drivers sharing duties on tarmac before gravel specialist Hänninen took over on his home turf.
The latest iteration of the i20 WRC car hit tarmac roads for the first time in the Vosges region of France from August 12 to 16 with the main objective of defining a base set-up for the surface.
“We completed good mileage with no major issues, and obtained valuable feedback from both Bryan and Juho, which will allow us to concentrate next on fine-tuning the individual components. Overall, it was a very positive tarmac debut,” explained Team Principal Michel Nandan.
Bouffier said the roads in the Vosges region had given him a good insight into the characteristics of the i20 WRC on tarmac. ”I’m very pleased with the behaviour of the car in the fast sections and when the road is bumpy. Of course, we will continue working on some areas but overall I find the car very well balanced and easy to handle,” he said.
From tarmac, the team moved to Finland last week and the fast gravel roads and jumps, which characterise Rally Finland. With local boy Hänninen behind the wheel, the test featured an upgraded version of the 2014-spec i20 WRC used in France.
“We applied some changes to the shape of the body and during the test we worked on the aerodynamics of the car,” explained Nandan.
“The car was fitted with a new aerodynamics package and we focused our efforts in finding a good balance. We wanted to check that all aspects of the car worked properly at high speed, as well as on the jumps, which are extremely demanding. The car can reach extreme acceleration through these jumps so it is essential to study the behaviour of the car and all of its components upon landing. We’ve also tried different suspension and differential solutions to develop the best set-up for next year’s rally.”
Hänninen said he was ‘positively surprised’ with the handling of the i20 WRC after the first run. “When you go to Finland for the first time you never know what to expect; sometimes, it can be really rough and there can be a lot of work required on the suspension. In this case, though, it was really easy from the first day and we were able to work making only minor adjustments. The car reacted very well to every change we made throughout the five days. I felt that I could trust the car immediately and the feeling got stronger day after day.”
With test sessions planned almost every two weeks, Hyundai Motorsport now faces the busiest time of the development phase ahead of its entry into next year’s FIA World Rally Championship.
“With new features on the car on every test session there’s a lot of work to be done not only on the ground but also back at the factory in order to get the car ready. There’s a great team effort and everyone is doing his best”, said Nandan.