Hyundai has revealed the “most important” upgrades yet for its i20 R5 car as it bids to threaten the established category leaders.
Skoda’s Fabia R5 and M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta R5 have long dominated the World Rally Championship’s second tier, while Citroen, Volkswagen and Proton will introduce new R5 cars this year.
Last year Hyundai’s i20 won the Tour European Rally series but its best result in major international competition is class podiums in WRC2.
A power hike from the introduction of variable valve timing and a revised engine map means Hyundai has used its final ‘joker’ available in the two years following the i20 R5’s initial homologation.
Improved suspension and differential settings are also available from March 1.
Just one i20 R5 started the 2018 Monte Carlo Rally, but Stephane Sarrazin retired from the event.
Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing department manager Andrea Adamo said: “In our efforts with the i20 R5 and our customers we are always aiming to make sure they can compete at the very front of whatever championship they choose.
“The rapid pace of development within the R5 category means that we constantly have to be working in order to guarantee this.
“These latest improvement are the most important we have made since the car’s debut, and will allow our customers to again challenge for rally wins and championship titles around the world.
“This season our customers are competing in a wider range of championships, so we have to make sure we continue our work in order for them to be on the pace in all conditions.”