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The sport of rallying has been given a major vote of confidence by manufacturers at this year's Australian International Motor Show in Sydney with a number of rally cars featuring on displays, reflecting renewed interest in the sport.
One of the real attention grabbers is the Hyundai Veloster turbo 'Race Concept' being shown by the Korean brand on its stand, mirroring the company's reborn commitment to the sport following the recent announcement that its parent company would be returning to World Rallying.
Along with the Hyundai Veloster the newly crowned Australian Rally Championship winning Honda Jazz G2 of Eli Evans is on prominent display at the Honda stand, while Malaysian maker Proton has its Asia Pacific Championship winning Satria Neo S2000 on its stand.
Subaru has also shown a potential rally car in the form of its new BRZ equipped with roll cage and race numbers and announced a series of motor sport packages through its New Zealand based partner Possum Bourne Motor Sports.
According to Scott Pedder, CEO of the Bosch Australian Rally Championship, support for rallying amongst manufacturers is an indication of a revival of interest in the sport which has come largely as a result of the change in the rules and formula being introduced to the Australian Championship for season 2013.
"It is pleasing to note that there were so many rally cars on display at the motor show and that is very encouraging," said Scott Pedder.
"We had a number of fruitful discussions with manufacturer representatives at the show continuing the dialogue the ARC has been having with the industry for the past two years and I believe there is a rising tide of support for the sport from manufacturers in Australia," he added.
"Clearly the Hyundai Veloster turbo is an exciting concept as a rally car and while Hyundai has indicated initially that it will most likely tackle some tarmac events, we have been making strong representation that it would be a good fit on gravel in the new G2 two wheel drive formula we have adopted in the ARC," said Scott.
"The Veloster turbo specs make it close to perfect for the G2 formula and it would make a great gravel car, it is a matter now of continuing discussions with Hyundai to attract them to the ARC," he said.
"It is also great to see Honda using its victory in the ARC title as a major marketing tool at the Show and I think it adds to the excitement for show goers and boosts Honda's image as a high tech performance car manufacturer with a strong competition pedigree," he added.
With a hint of possible plans to rally in Australia in 2013, the Veloster Race Concept was engineered to meet all FIA and CAMS tarmac rally competition regulations and requirements.
Veloster Race Concept was developed by Hyundai in Australia by a specialist engineering team.
The car was stripped down to a body shell and rebuilt using Hyundai technical and engineering know-how combined with contracted motorsport race specialists. The project was led by the same technical team that conduct ride and handling tuning for Hyundai production vehicles in Australia.
Hyundai has indicated that while the Veloster Race Concept appears in tarmac rally specification; however, minor modifications would make the Concept eligible for the Australia Rally Championship and is powered by a 1.6-litre turbo engine using a twin-scroll turbocharger, stainless steel hi-flow exhaust system and a standard six-speed manual transmission.
The car has also been fitted with a multi-point FIA and CAMS compliant roll cage, Recaro Spa Hans carbon seats, multi-point 3" safety harnesses, Alcon race brakes, a hydraulic handbrake, stainless steel brake lines, Project Mu competition brake pads, Kevlar high pressure fuel lines, a Sparco race steering wheel, an on board fire extinguisher system, DMS 4-Way adjustable suspension, Team Dynamics 18 x 8 race wheels, Pirelli P Zero Trofeo tyres, a light weight carbon interior, carbon mirrors and a custom rear wing.
Hyundai launched its new i20 World Rally Car at the Paris Motor Show recently signaling its intention to return to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). This builds on the company's rally history, which began in 1988 competing in the F2 class of the WRC for two seasons with Australian Wayne Bell. In 1999, the team announced it would step up to the top class in 2000, with a fully-developed WRC car based on the three-door Accent and withdrew at the end of 2003 season embarking on its long-term strategy to set up an in-house WRC team in Europe.
A number of manufacturer announcements regarding involvement in the Australian Rally Championship are set to be made in the coming months ahead of the 2013 Championship

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