Hyundai has revealed its new World Rally Car in Alzenau, Germany overnight, based on the new-generation i20 hatchback.
The car was originally scheduled for introduction during the 2015 season, but was delayed to ensure it had the pace to match the all-conquering VW Polo WRC, which has won all but five events over the past three seasons (an 87 per cent win rate).
Having completed over 8000km of testing, two examples of Hyundai's latest challenger will make their debuts at the 2016 Monte Carlo Rally in early January before expanding to three identical cars at the second round in Sweden.
Hyundai has retained the services of all three of its drivers, Spaniard Dani Sordo, Belgian Thierry Neuville and New Zealand's Haydon Paddon, who recently signed a three-year deal with the team.
Judging by the below footage of the team testing for the Monte, Sordo and Neuville will start in the new-generation i20 WRC while Paddon, who has limited experience of the season-opener, will retain last year's car before upgrading in Sweden.
With only two drivers able to be nominated each rally to earn manufacturer points, Hyundai is continuing its policy of rotating its drivers according to their strengths and experience.
Kiwi Paddon was the sensation of 2015, often Hyundai's fastest driver, but still lacks experience compared to WRC veteran Sordo and former Ford and Citroen driver Neuville.
Neuville had a torrid 2015, losing motivation once it became clear the new car would be delayed until 2016 and suffering a number of accidents. At his best, though, he is as good as any driver in the WRC and will be looking to regain his form in Monte Carlo.
Hyundai also launched its new R5 car, essentially a more production-based mini-World Rally Car for use in second-tier series like WRC2 and the European Rally Championship.
Development for the R5 and Hyundai's 2017 World Rally Car will be handled by Dutchman Kevin Abbring, who will also compete on selected rounds of the 2016 WRC.
The change in WRC technical regulations for 2017 means the new i20 WRC will have a mere one-year competitive life, however the expense will be deemed well worth it if Hyundai can wrestle the title away from the dominant Volkswagens.
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