Hyundai was relatively late onto the R5 bandwagon, with its first generation of the i20 R5 arriving in 2016. That car was, by the manufacturer’s admission, a rush job and not particularly competitive against the M-Sport Fiesta, Polo R5 and Skoda Fabia. However, when Andrea Adamo took over as motorsport director at the start of 2019, having previously headed up the company’s customer racing division, he set about strengthening its offerings.
The result is the i20 N Rally2, the R5 moniker being consigned to the history books with the FIA’s new class rebrand to Rally2. Technically, the marque has launched two customer i20s in quick succession, having brought an update for the R5 car at the start of 2020, though the Rally2 car is a comprehensive new-build, rather than an additional upgrade.
“The i20 R5 was the first car from our Customer Racing department, and the new i20 N Rally2 shows how far we have come in the five years since the foundation of the department,” said team principal Adamo. “Every area of the new car is an improvement over the original, thanks to the work of our dedicated team of designers and engineers.”
With the exception of the 5-speed sequential gearbox from the i20 R5, Hyundai claims that nearly every other part of the i20 N Rally2 is new, including the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine. The design process began in January 2020 with a specialized group of designers and engineers leveraging the experience of the i20 R5 project. In doing so, Hyundai says it has been able to take advantage of the fantastic growth of customer racing since 2015, which has seen the department grow from a handful of people to a team of 60.
The i20 N Rally2 carries over several enhancements from the R5 car, with the new chassis making further gains possible across the car. For example, new suspension components and revised dampers have been introduced to give more benign handling characteristics on all surfaces – vital for the Rally2 category, which forms the basis for national and regional championships as well as WRC 2 and WRC 3 classes.
“Our focus is now on testing the i20 N Rally2 to further develop each aspect of the design to improve performance and reliability, while also ensuring the handling enables each of our customers to achieve the best possible results when they start competing with the car in 2021,” concluded Adamo.