despite the fact that many only know the recent history of Hyundai Motorsport in the World Rally championship, behind the present project with the i20, there is much more to tell than most know. The stage of the Korean company in the WRC starting at the end of the decade of the nineties with a similar situation to the one that led to SEAT end up going to the category of 2.0 L to the World Rally Championship. In the case of Hyundai, two years in F2 (1998 and 1999) with the Coupe Kit Car of 2WD were enough to at the headquarters of Korea decided to take the big leap.
To build a World Rally Car followed in the footsteps of many of the official teams of the time, delegate responsibilities to a coach, something that made Ford with M-Sport or Subaru with Prodrive. In this case, the Hyundai, with almost no experience in competition and without a dedicated department within the organization chart decided to rely on MSD (MotorSport Developments) with the headquarters in Milton Keynes, to lead its program with the Accent WRC.
The car made its debut at the Rally of Sweden in 2000 and only lasted three seasons and a half in the World. None of them would fight for the victories, with two quarter positions as best results (Australia 2000 and Britain 2001), and some of the developments that came in a dropper. The discrepancies between the preparer MSD and the leaders of Hyundai became irreconcilable and the accumulated tension after a 2003 season marked by restrictions in terms of budget and reliability problems led to the koreans to close the ‘snack bar’ in the month of September, before even the end of the year.
Have the experience of Juha Kankkunen, Kenneth Eriksson, Piero Liatti, Alister McRae or Freddy Loix was not allowed to the computer or even to outperform other formations such as Skoda or a Mitsubishi low hours (not able to give with the key in the step from Group a To WRC). The Accent was not reliable and fast, in large part for having used the engine from the Coupe modified, something that made Hyundai take action: promised to return in 2006, mid-season, with the goal of the challenge already in 2007, the calendar as a whole with a new World Rally Car, which apparently they would have more weight in its development and would not be repeated mistakes of the past.
The Hyundai Accent SR WRC that never existed:
Only a month later announce the closure of their program, made an appearance a sketch of a new World Rally Car with the official signature of Hyundai. In the image heading this article you can see what apparently is the racing version of a model that the koreans would be presented in 2006: the Accent SR Turbo, which would be a Concept Car more forward, but that would never come to production. A car that is certainly best suited to the regulations of the World engine 2.0 Turbo and models of three doors that prevailed at the beginning of the XXI Century.
This fact, in addition to the economic crisis that befell the asian market and that in turn resulted in the departure of Suzuki and Subaru from the WRC in 2008 led to the long-awaited return of Hyundai is delayed until 2014, along with the change of philosophy of the hyundai brand, which decided to bet on occidentalizarse modernizing their designs and renewing their methods of production. It was the i20 WRC, and he did it out of the hand of the sports section created specifically for this project in the World Rally championship.
In just two seasons Hyundai achieved eight podiums, one of them the double achieved by Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo in the Rally of Germany 2014. Maybe you do not get to justify the billion dollar investment (with a budget of around 70 billion €), but the possible fight for the titles in the future and the positive publicity from the competition, especially in comparison to the one received with the Accent WRC, make the effort worthwhile.