Hyundai's New Generation i20 R5: for rally drivers and customers

- Established in late 2015, Hyundai Motorsport’s R5 programme is a key pillar of the company’s Customer Racing department, which utilises the technology and expertise gained from competing in the WRC.

Two years ago, Hyundai Motorsport began development of the i20 R5, with rally driving proving increasingly popular for customers. Designed to compete in international, regional and national World Rally Championship-2 (WRC-2) championships, the i20 R5 was the first car designed, developed and delivered by Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing. It has become one of the most competitive categories of world motorsport, hosting cars built by many of the world’s more prominent manufacturers.

What is R5?

The R5 class was introduced in 2012 by motorsport’s governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), as part of the Group R category, which was itself a replacement for Group A and Group N cars.

Accommodating privateer teams, the Group R category offers affordability through strict cost-capping of cars and components, while producing a high-performance rally car that is at home on the stages. R5 cars feature a turbocharged petrol engine with a capacity of 1600cc and four-wheel drive. They must have a minimum weight of 1230 kg.

The New Generation i20 R5

Hyundai Motorsport’s Customer Racing department was formed in September 2015 with aim of enhancing Hyundai’s motorsport image around the world, alongside the company’s involvement with the WRC. Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing shares half of the 16,000m2 Hyundai Motorsport headquarters at Alzenau, near Frankfurt in Germany.

The i20 R5 offers Hyundai customers a competitive vehicle to contest WRC2 and national and regional rally championships around the world. Based on the Hyundai i20 five-door, the New Generation i20 R5 is a slimmed-down version of the i20 WRC car. The i20 R5’s intake restrictor is 32mm, compared to 33mm for i20 WRC, and features a 1.6 direct injection turbo engine. The other significant difference between the i20 R5 and the i20 WRC is the gearbox. The i20 R5 has a five-speed sequential gearbox with stick shift, while the i20 WRC features a six-speed sequential gearbox with paddle shift.

Ready for lift-off in 2017

The New Generation i20 R5 was first tested in Fontjoncouse, southern France, in January 2016 by team test and development driver Kevin Abbring, before continuing nine months of extensive testing at various locations across Europe. The New Generation Hyundai i20 R5 made its competitive debut in the WRC2 class at Tour de Corse, and claimed its first major rally victory at the 2016 Rallye du Var in the south of France, becoming only the second non-French and first R5 crew to win the rally.

In early 2017, many Hyundai Motorsport customers across Europe got to compete in their New Generation i20 R5 for the first time. At the Ronde della Val Merula, Elwis Chentre took an overall podium with his co-driver Fulvio Florean, as they made their first start in a New Generation i20 R5 run by Promo Racing.

Meanwhile, in one of the most competitive openings of the championship for many years, two New Generation i20 R5 crews combined to win seven of the ten stages on the Rallye Sierra Morena. Driver Iván Ares claimed three of the top times and finished third overall, while Surhayen Pernia won the opening two stages and led the rally overnight, going on to finish second behind the defending series champion.

As of August 2017, the New Generation i20 R5 has made 131 starts in 93 events, delivering 11 victories and 33 podiums, with a total of 120 stage wins so far. The future certainly looks bright for the New Generation i20 R5.