Hyundai is the first World Rally Championship manufacturer to officially launch its all-new hybrid Rally1 car that will contest the 2022 season.
Hyundai i20 N Rally1 2022 edition
Photo by: Hyundai Motorsport
The Korean marque has unveiled its challenger to tackle the WRC’s new hybrid era, featuring a tweaked version of its blue and orange factory livery.
The i20 N Rally1 will be piloted by Thierry Neuville and 2019 WRC champion Ott Tanak across the full 13-round championship, while new signing Oliver Solberg will share the third entry with the experienced Dani Sordo during the season.
Solberg is expected to contest the majority of the rallies beginning with the first three outings in Monte Carlo (20-23 January), Sweden (24-27 February) and Croatia (21-24 April).
New Rally1 regulations has resulted in Hyundai, Toyota and M-Sport Ford designing and constructing all-new cars from the ground up, with Hyundai the last of the marques to commit and start working on its 2022 challenger, the final specification only began testing in late November.
The biggest change to the cars sees the introduction of a 100kW hybrid unit coupled to the 1.6 litre turbo charged internal combustion engine, the only key component carried over from the previous generation of cars.
Drivers will be required to use hybrid power during every stage with power boosts activated by the throttle pedal and unlocked through energy regeneration under braking during the tests.
Rally1 cars are constructed around a new safer, steel spaceframe chassis built from scratch. Compared to their predecessors, vehicles will be approximately 70kg heavier, feature reduced aerodynamics to the tune of 15%, have less suspension travel and will be without trick centre differentials.
Hyundai president Scott Noh, acting as an interim team principal following Andrea Adamo’s departure last month due to personal reasons, believes the new i20 will be capable of mounting a title challenge.
“We are confident we have the package to fight for our third manufacturers’ title – and to support our crews to be in the hunt for the drivers’/co-drivers’ titles too,” said Noh.
Photo by: Hyundai Motorsport
Despite heading into uncharted waters with the introduction of hybrid power, powertrain manager and deputy team director Julien Moncet says the team has embraced the technological challenge, but is wary that the i20’s performance will only be known when competition begins at Monte Carlo.
To further understand the challenges of hybrid technology, Hyundai conducted a private three-day rally simulation in Italy with its prototype car in October last year.
While testing has been largely completed without major issues, in November the team’s test in France was halted by a serious crash for Neuville and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe. Neuville emerged unscathed while Wydaeghe is set to recover from a collarbone injury in time for Monte Carlo.
“We have welcomed the technical challenge of WRC’s new hybrid era,” said Moncet.
“It promises to be a step into the unknown for every team, but we are confident we’ve done the best job possible with our Hyundai i20 N Rally1.
“The main objective has been to combine the internal combustion engine and the plug-in hybrid unit, getting all the components working together harmoniously within the chassis.
“We have carried out testing with the car in different scenarios on different terrain to gather as much real-time data as possible.
“Our simulation test in October put the car through a representative experience of a real rally weekend, and from that we’ve been able to further tune the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 ahead of its competitive debut.
“The car’s performance level will only really be known when we get to the rally stages against our competition.”
Hyundai will conduct its final pre-event test this week in France ahead of the Monte Carlo season opener.
Toyota and M-Sport Ford are expected to unveil their Rally1 machines at the official season launch on Saturday (15 January).
by Tom Howard