Hyundai has revealed more details about its plan to return to the WRC at the highest level in 2014, including the formation of a new motorsport base in Europe and the appointment of Michel Nandan as Team Principal.
Hyundai had a formal presence in the WRC between 2000 and 2003, with an Accent World Rally Car run by British preparation firm Motor Sport Developments.
In September last year however it announced its intention to re-enter the WRC and is now developing a WRC version of its new i20 model with the objective of competing in the entire 2014 championship.
Today Hyundai confirmed that Michel Nandan would head up the programme as Team Principal. The Frenchman has held key technical positions in the WRC since the mid-1990s – most notably as Technical Director of Peugeot Sport between 1999 and 2005.
The firm has also established a bespoke motorsport subsidiary, Hyundai Motorsport GmbH, under which the company’s WRC programme will be run. The cars will be built in new headquarters in Alzenau, Germany, close to Frankfurt, where Hyundai’s European HQ is situated.
Nandan said: “I am honoured to have been chosen by Hyundai to spearhead its exciting new entry into the WRC. The project is still in its infancy, but things are moving rapidly, and I am looking forward to developing the team as this year progresses. There is much to be done, of that we are fully aware, but with a dedicated facility in Alzenau and an ambitious core of highly motivated personnel, we are already making good progress.”
An interim version of the i20 has already begun testing in Korea to enable Hyundai to undertake component and suspension analysis with further tests scheduled throughout 2013.
Nandan added: “We are deliberately using an interim version of the i20 to carry out important component testing and to ensure that we have done our homework before we enter competition. This phase will continue throughout 2013 as we prepare for our first full season back in WRC in 2014. There are a lot of other decisions that we will have to make during the course of the year, particularly regarding the selection of drivers, but this also requires time and due diligence. We will, at the same time, keep a close eye on how the 2013 WRC season unfolds.”
“Hyundai is excited to re-enter WRC, and we’re back not just to compete, but to win,” said Tak Uk Im, Executive Vice President & COO of Hyundai Motor.