The Hyundai badge will make its debut in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) in 2020, with two new cars fielded by independent team Excelr8 Motorsport.
A commitment this week to build two new Hyundai i30 Fastback N Performance cars to the BTCC’s NGTC regulations represents a considerable step up for Excelr8. The team entered the series for the first time in 2019, running a pair of MG6 cars built in 2012 and previously campaigned by Triple Eight Racing and AmDTuning.
Excelr8’s initial plans to run a Mini in the BTCC were thwarted by no model in the manufacturer’s road car range meeting the BTCC’s minimum length regulation. The Suffolk-based team organizes the JCW Mini Challenge that will replace the Renault Clio Cup as a BTCC support series in 2020 and has developed, built and globally distributed more than 70 Mini Challenge cars, both for the JCW Series and championships in Japan and China.
The two Hyundais will be campaigned as an independent entry though when announcing the project, Excelr8 team principal Oliver Shepherd hinted at hopes of manufacturer involvement in future, particularly through the brand’s dealer network. As well as its successful World Rally Championship program, Hyundai runs a works team of i30 N hatchbacks in the WTCR touring car world championship.
Choosing the coupe-styled Fastback format offers advantages as the road car variant, launched in early 2019, starts off with a 7% increase in torsional stiffness compared to the i30 N hatchback which went on sale in 2017.
Shepherd believes there will be other advantages. “The i30 Fastback N Performance offers a very favorable combination of wheelbase, track width, drag coefficient and torsional stiffness, so we are extremely excited about the prospects of this project,” he said.
Build of the new cars began in September – the team believes the experience and data gained from a year of running the two MG6 cars will benefit the design process of the Hyundais, while many of the mandatory specified components produced by RML for the BTCC will be able to be transferred to the new cars.
Excelr8 is also working closely with Cosworth Electronics to ensure the new cars will be future-proofed, effectively accommodating the BTCC’s new hybrid drivetrains that are due to debut in the series in 2022.