Hyundai Motorsport has shown off its all-new i20 N Rally1 plug-in hybrid (PHEV) racer, ahead of its debut at the 2022 Monte Carlo Rally.
Based on the regular, road-going i20 N, the i20 N Rally1 racer follows the new Rally1 hybrid regulations for the 2022 season of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).
These new Rally1 regulations require a powertrain that combines a traditional turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder internal combustion engine (ICE) with a plug-in hybrid system.
The FIA is looking towards a more sustainable future, hence the introduction of the hybrid technology, and all Rally1 entrants will run on synthetic fuel that’s claimed to be sustainable.
The i20 N Rally1 racer has similarly prominent aero pieces to its predecessors, as well as swollen wheel arches.
It wears a brightly-coloured wrap that has signature Performance Blue, red and navy segments.
Hyundai Motorsport has been testing its i20 N Rally1 racer since May 2021, where the car was put through its paces on different surfaces around Europe.
It’ll field a four-crew line-up for the 2022 WRC season and is intent on delivering more success for the team in 2022. It’s also said to be “relishing the new hybrid challenge”.
“We are excited to be part of this new hybrid era of WRC and to demonstrate Hyundai’s firm commitment to international motorsport,” said Hyundai Motorsport president Scott Noh.
At the helm of the i20 N Rally1 racers for all rounds of the 2022 WRC season will be team’s rally-winning crews of Swedish driver Thierry Neuville and Belgian co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe, as well as the Estonian duo of Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja.
Mr Neuville will be aiming to add to his victory tally in 2022, with Mr Wydaeghe now having a total of 15 WRC wins as he enters his ninth year with Hyundai Motorsport.
In Mr Neuville’s first season with Mr Wydaeghe, the pair amassed two victories and a total of seven podiums.
This will also be the third campaign for the Estonian duo, with the crew taking out two wins and eight podium finishes in the 2020 and 2021 WRC seasons.
There’ll also be a third car that’ll be shared throughout the 2022 WRC season by Swedish rising star Oliver Solberg and experienced Spaniard Dani Sordo.
Mr Solberg will be co-driven by Elliott Edmondson, while Sordo begins his ninth season as a Hyundai Motorsport driver alongside his co-driver, Cándido Carrera.
“With every test, we have been able to feel more comfortable in the car, but the beginning of the season is a learning period for all crews and teams,” said Mr Neuville.
“Everybody in the team has been working hard; with the regulations changing there hasn’t been much time to relax,” said Mr Tänak.
“I certainly feel good in the Hyundai i20N Rally1, and it’s quite enjoyable with that extra bit of power,” said Mr Solberg.
Crews entering the 2022 WRC season will tackle a 13-round calendar where they’ll face a mixture of gravel, tarmac, snow and icy terrains.
Rally New Zealand and Rally Japan are set to return as well after both have cancelled their rallies for the past two seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hyundai Motorsport isn’t alone in revealing its all-new Rally1 racer, with Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team (WRT) developing its Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 and M-Sport Ford WRT developing its Ford Puma Rally1.
Both have also been extensively tested throughout Europe in the lead up to the 2022 WRC season.
In late 2021, Ford Europe posted a promotional video of the Puma Rally1 racer showing it hoon around its Craiova, Romania plant in commemoration of the one millionth Ford vehicle built there.
For now we’ll have to wait and see which team proves victorious at the Monte Carlo Rally which will run from January 20 to January 23.