Dutchman Kevin Abbring will lead the competitive debut of Hyundai’s new R5-spec i20 car at the Tour de Corse – Rallye de France (29 September-October 2).
Hyundai Motorsport has chosen Corsica, the 10th round of the WRC season, to debut the much anticipated R5 model in WRC 2, with a further two cars entered by private teams and supported by the German-based squad’s customer racing department.
The first R5 will be run by Hyundai Motorsport for test driver Abbring, who has completed almost all of the 5,000km of testing during the car's seven-month development process.
Abbring gave the R5 its first public run out at the Ypres Rally in June and is looking forward to seeing how it fares against the competition. "We’ve been testing since January and it’s all been building up to this point, so to be part of the car’s WRC 2 debut is a great way for us to celebrate our achievement in reaching this point in the project," he said.
Due to his experience in the car, and the fact that he was second overall at the end of the opening day in Corsica last year, Abbring is one of the favourites for success in the WRC 2 category this time - even though the Dutchman has downplayed his ambitions.
"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,” he said.
The other two R5 machines will be in the hands of customers, the first for FIA World Endurance Championship and Formula E driver Stéphane Sarrazin. The Frenchman is a past winner in Corsica and claimed ninth overall last year in a Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car.
The second car, as reported earlier on wrc.com, will be for Italian WRC 3 competitor Fabio Andolfi.
Hyundai will also enter i20 World Rally Cars for its three top-line drivers, Hayden Paddon, Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville.
"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 WRC 2 championship we have targeted one of the most competitive areas of modern motorsport," said Nandan, who added that the R5 was not yet signed-off by the FIA.
"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,” he explained.