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Sometimes it does not quite go to plan!  The 2016 Ypres Rally saw the first appearance of the Hyundai New Generation i20 R5, and to celebrate the occasion Hyundai’s customer motorsport operation entered their WRC driver, Thierry Neuville, in a gaily coloured car on his country’s premier rally, hoping for a spectacular success.   

Tom Cave in action in a customer Hyundai R5.

Thierry was impressive, winning the majority of special stages, but also spectacular when he went off the event on the first day and rolled!  

Andrea Adamo, Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Manager, gave us an insight into their works.  

“Hyundai Motorsport customer racing has grown a lot.  It was a challenge to establish the team, the organisations, the car sales, the homologation.  So it was a huge job done by the team and I am very proud of all of them that are working here.  I think we are reasonably going well.”
 
Hyundai R5 Andrea AdamoHyundai's Andrea Adamo. (Photo: Holmes)What do you think about the R5 world generally? Already around 30 Hyundai R5s exist and in Ypres no fewer than a total of 34 R5 cars took the start, a huge numbers of Skoda Fabias and Ford Fiestas, just a few Citroens, Peugeots and your cars.  

“I speak just for Hyundai.  We found ourselves in a very tough market where cars of our competitors have been around much longer and whose customer racing activity is already very well settled down and known by everyone.  

“I think we have done a nice job having five cars on this rally for us, in just one year making a competitive R5 car and to show that Hyundai Motorsport customer racing is a credible operation.   We are continuing with this design apart, of course, from introducing paddleshift systems which will be allowed from next year (2018).  

“Our priority is to establish our organisation, because so long as you have a good organisation you can have lots of cars on the market.  If you don’t have a proper organisation you can hardly follow it so my target is the organisation.  We are no longer working on R2, we are now focussing on R5 and TCR.”
 
The R5 rally car is not the customer division’s only project.  Their proposed involvement with the TCR series is another.  

“We are also developing a car for TCR.  Its quite a good thing because it is a brand new challenge for Hyundai Motorsport customer racing and Hyundai Motorsport has never been involved before in a touring car programme.  

“It is on-going, good to work on this brand new car, the i30.  There is a lot of expectation from everyone at Hyundai because work on the i30 is increasing the sporty image of Hyundai.  

Hyundai R5 Neuville car Ypres 2017The brightly coloured Hyundai R5 of Thierry Neuville at Ypres 2017. (Photo: Holmes)“Our test plan is going well.  We also have a nice team, nice people, experienced people with Gabriele Tarquini on top.”
 
Compared with the Fabias and the Fiestas, what are the strong points of the NG i20 R5?  

“For me the rules are not allowing us to make so many different things between cars so I can hardly see any stronger point or bad point against the other.  

“I can tell you the good things about i20, very good in terms of suspension, weight balance, and the engine is really a very strong factor of our car, and we keep pushing the organisation behind it every day.  

“My job is to keep the business in customer racing alive.  So far I have to work hard with my people to establish R5, to make a very nice car in TCR and a competitive one.  Normally I take things step by step.  As they say in Africa, the only way to eat an elephant is slice by slice, so let me cut it in slices.  We’ll see what is going to happen in the future.”
 
What do you think is the main benefit of the world championship so far as your work is concerned? Is it just the image or is it the technical contact between the world championship and the customer service?  

“WRC 2017 cars and the R5 cars are so different, but the image showing that the technical group of people that are working in Hyundai Motorsport is very high level and the personnel are the same.  

“I think that is very good for everyone in Hyundai Motorsport.  The WRC is going well, it is a good image for everyone.  

“Let me live with the present, with some future in mind and we’ll see what the future will bring.”
 
- Martin Holmes

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