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New Generation i20 R5 set for public debut

June 20, 2016

Milestone for Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing department

Ready to show off the result of months of hard work and development for our Customer Racing department

Our New Generation i20 R5 will appear in public for the first time this weekend, running as a course car at the Ypres Rally, the fifth round of this year’s European Rally Championship (ERC).

While the Customer Racing department at Hyundai Motorsport prepares for the crucial weekend, Team Principal Michel Nandan speaks about what he expects at the rally, and where the Belgian event fits into the development programme for the car.

The 2016 Ypres Rally will be the first public showing of the New Generation i20 R5. How significant is this event?

“That this will be the car’s maiden run in public, in front of rally fans and our future customers on the stages is significant in itself, but it is also a special event in the history of Hyundai Motorsport. Our attendance at this event, is separate from our WRC programme, which has been our sole focus for much of the last four years. For the Ypres Rally weekend we focus on the New Generation i20 R5, the first Hyundai Motorsport car built for customers. This is a very important project for the company, not only because it will represent us to customers, but it will also carry the Hyundai brand to a wider audience of motorsport fans. With this new car we will be able to give an even greater profile to the high-performance engineering capabilities of the manufacturer by competing in new championships, new countries and in front of new fans.”

Why was the Ypres Rally chosen for the first public appearance of the car?

“There are several reasons, because the Ypres Rally serves several purposes for the New Generation i20 R5 project. The ERC is a key championship for the R5 category, and the Ypres Rally is one of the biggest weekends of the season. It’s a famous event that always attracts a big entry list, with a lot of international interest, so it’s great place to show the car for the first time. We’ve had a huge amount of interest in the project, but potential customers want to see how the car performs on proper competition stages. The Ypres Rally will be the first time we have run on the same roads as our future competitors, so people will be able to start comparing us against the current ERC field. They will be able to see the results of the work that has already gone into the project, but at the same time the Ypres Rally is just another part of the development of the car.”

How does running at the Ypres Rally fit in with the continuing development of the New Generation i20 R5?

“With our first outing in public the New Generation i20 R5 project is entering the final stages of development. The weekend at Ypres is a pivotal weekend for the Customer Racing department, but we are also taking advantage of an opportunity to continue our testing. The stages in Ypres are unique; very fast, very narrow but still demanding on brakes. Due to the demands of the R5 class it is important that our car is competitive on a wide range of roads and surfaces. This has been one of the key aims of the test programme. The mileage completed at Ypres will add to our knowledge about the car. Following Ypres there are further tests planned, as we want to make the most of the time we have up to our planned homologation date.”

The schedule of the project has been quite tight, has that been a concern during development?

“When we drew up the schedule for the Customer Racing department we knew that it was a tough task. To go from foundation, through testing to the first public appearance in just nine months is very demanding, even more when developing a car for such a competitive category as R5. Sometimes the tight schedule we have set ourselves have meant being flexible in our planning. This has allowed us to make the best use of the time; whether that be adding to the test mileage the car has completed, or developing and preparing the car back at Hyundai Motorsport headquarters in Alzenau.”

Are you satisfied with the amount of testing the New Generation i20 R5 has completed during its development?

“So far we have completed more than 3,000km with the New Generation i20 R5, running on both gravel and tarmac. As a team we are where we planned to be at this stage of the project. In the early tests we were focused on the reliability of the car, before moving on to concentrate on the handling. For that our test driver Kevin Abbring was able to use his experience of the other R5 cars to help”


Juuso Nordgren is the Future Rally Star of Finland 2016

June 13, 2016

Juuso Nordgren is the Future Rally Star of Finland 2016 after he beat off competition from two other young hopefuls to win a fully-funded drive on his country’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship next month.

Jani Backman & Juuso Nordgren

Rising talent Juuso Nordgren comes out on top following two-day assessment. Jury member Jani Backman predicts big things for the latest Flying Finn.

Nordgren won through following a two-day assessment where his reconnaissance and pacenote-making skills, mental strength, physical fitness and ability to give an interview in English were put to the test under the watchful eye of various industry experts and a five-person jury.

Following deliberation, the jury agreed that Nordgren was the driver most worthy of this dream opportunity.

“It was a big relief when I heard that I had won, because I felt quite a big pressure on me!” said the 19-year-old. “I have been rallying for only two years, so I did not have so much experience but I just tried to my best all the time. Even if I had not won, it would still have been a fantastic experience as we learned so much and had to push ourselves very hard.”

It will be Nordgren’s debut in the WRC and he will be following previous Future Rally Star of Finland winners, including 2014 winner Teemu Suninen, and Jari Huttunen, who triumphed last year.

“This is a really fantastic opportunity for me now and I want to make the most of it,” added Nordgren, who will drive a Citroën DS3 R3T car and be eligible for the JWRC category. “I have actually driven a DS3 on a rally before and I know what a great car it is. So now it is down to me to get the best performance out of myself too.

In readiness for his Future Rally Star of Finland opportunity, Nordgren will get a one-day test in the Citroën he will use on the event. He will also receive additional training from Jukka Korhonen and Matti Rantanen, both of whom have showed plenty of speed in Finland in the past.

Jani Backman, the Neste Rally Finland promoter who has been involved in deciding both previous award winners, said: “In the end, it wasn’t such a difficult decision. Juuso impressed all the judges with his performance in each one of the tests. Of course, there was a very high level, which is always the case with this award. But I think we knew that Juuso was looking strong from quite an early point, so of course we have high hopes for him.”

Juuso Nordgren driver profile:

Date of birth: 19 November 1996
Place of birth: Karkkila
Lives: Karkkila
Career summary: 2015 Finnish Junior Champion
Two-time winner of the R2 class in Finland this year
Usual rally car: Peugeot 208 R2
Rallying hero: Sebastien Loeb – the best at everything. In racing, Ayrton Senna.

Did you know? Markku Alen and nine-time Finnish champion Juha Salo also come from Karkkila.

Future Rally Star of Finland 2016 jury:

Jani Backman, Neste Rally Finland promoter
Jouni Ampuja, rally coach
Sebastian Lindholm, former factory rally driver, tyre-testing expert
Jarno Riski, professional sports coach
Erik Veiby, driver management specialist

Previous winners of Future Rally Star of Finland award:

2015: Jari Huttunen
2014: Teemu Suninen


The development of the 2017 World Rally Car accelerates in Finland

June 12, 2016

Citroën Racing chose the roads of Finland for the third development test session of its 2017 World Rally Car. Running at maximum speed on the famous jumps, Kris Meeke and Craig Breen were able to test the car’s aerodynamic performance.

With its large, fast and rolling roads, Finland is among world rallying’s most revered venues. Due to the high speeds and the difficulty to “read” the road it is one of the toughest terrains to grasp, especially at the approach of the jumps that send the cars flying into the air.

So, it is no surprise that this country figures among the priority destinations for the team in charge of developing the Citroën that will compete in the World Rally Championship beginning in 2017. After the rough terrain of southern France and the mud-filled tracks in Portugal, Finland was ideal to continue assessing the car’s reliability and performance.

For this test, the aerodynamics were closely scrutinized by the engineers. “The freedom allowed by the FIA regulations offers us a much larger range of possible solutions than before”, says project manager for the 2017 World Rally Car, Alexis Avril. “The bodywork of the WRC must entirely cover that of the original model and the maximum width is set at 1875 mm. In this framework, we have a lot of freedom to design the wheel arches and bumpers. We can also develop with the door posts, create air intakes for re-cooling the rear brakes and add on a diffuser… Paradoxically, there are more restrictions for the design of the rear wing than today, but its efficiency will be increased tenfold by its further backed and raised positioning.”

The aerodynamics of a race car must solve the complex equation of attaining maximum down-force, minimum drag and maximum cooling. To achieve this, Citroën Racing’s engineers have adopted what is now a standard methodology. “We started the work with the CFD calculations, which let us sift through the possible options, continues Alexis Avril. “We collaborated with the Citroën design studio in order for the race car to resemble the characteristics of the production model. From this data, we built a model that was used in the wind tunnel. Between sessions, we carried on with the CFD calculations in enriching the data from the tests, and vice versa. ”

With this approach, the expertise gained during the development of the WTCC Citroën Elysée has been widely put to use: “We have made great strides in our understanding of the flow principles and aerodynamic performance since 2013 and the debut of the WTCC programme. We have saved time in utilizing the proven solutions. As the disciplines are different not everything was transferable, in circuit racing, there is a form of systematization that doesn’t exist in rallying. Thus, the compromises are more important. ”

While the aerodynamic development itself was done with CFD calculations and wind tunnel tests, the test sessions were used to verify the resilience of the elements. “Vulnerability is an essential point in rallying. On the dirt, mud, stones and gravel can quickly tear away the element or block the air intakes…,” recalls Alexis Avril. “So you have to run in all the conditions to, once again, find a compromise between reliability and performance.”


Hyundai i20 R5 set for public debut at Ypres Rally

May 30, 2016

The wait is almost over! Our New Generation i20 R5 will make its first public appearance at a rally next month. As part of on going testing, the i20 R5 will run as a course car at the 2016 Ypres Rally from June 23-25.

Hyundai i20 R5

We are excited to be involved in the famous Belgian event, which is the fifth round of the European Rally Championship (ERC). While we have already tested the car on tarmac, the high-speed stages of West Flanders will add more mileage and mark another milestone in the car’s development.

“The Ypres Rally is a pivotal weekend in the New Generation i20 R5 project!” explained our Customer Racing department manager Andrea Adamo. “It’s the perfect place to debut the car. The ERC is a key championship for R5 teams, where we hope our customers will compete.”

Winning Livery

Shedding the camouflage scheme that has been used since testing began, the New Generation i20 R5 will carry a fresh and exciting new livery. Hyundai Motorsport fans were invited to create a new look for the car in May. Many high-quality designs were submitted and a striking livery designed by a New Zealand fan was chosen as the winner.

Second Chassis

The car itself will also be new. Our team of mechanics at Alzenau have prepared a second chassis that incorporates our learning and knowledge from previous tests. As a result, this car will be have a very similar specification to the cars that will be delivered to eager customers before the end of the year.

Kevin in the Driving Seat

Our test and development driver Kevin Abbring, who has already tackled the event four times in his career, will be behind the wheel. Fans will have the opportunity to see him, and co-driver Seb Marshall, on the stages throughout the four-days and will also have the opportunity to get a closer look at the car at the Service Park.

“Ypres is an event with some great history in an area where people are very knowledgeable about rally. The flat, high speed roads of Ypres are quite different from the tarmac tests we have done,” continued Andrea. “We want to run the car on various types of stage in order to thoroughly prepare it. This event is important as we will be proudly running in front of fans, the media and our future customers for the first time.”

With further tests planned, we are continuing work to deliver the best car possible to customers after homologation is completed in the summer.


Five wins, five questions: An interview with Markku Alén

May 17, 2016

His five wins are a record for Rally Portugal: Markku Alén, known as “Mr. Maximum Attack.” The Finnish rally legend won in Portugal in 1975, his first ever WRC win, before repeating the feat in 1977, 1978, 1981 and 1987. As Sébastien Ogier can match his Portugal record with a victory at Rally Portugal (19 to 22 May), we invited the ex-champion for a chat.

Mr. Alén, our driver Sébastien Ogier needs one more win to match your record. Is this a problem for you or no big deal?
Markku Alén (laughing): No, I don’t have a problem with that at all. Seb is fantastic, I like the way he drives. Furthermore, he is a great guy. I like him a lot, on a personal level. Seb is a fighter, who always wants to win – I like that. If he wins this year, we will both hold the record with five wins. And we can talk about this again in a year’s time.

15 out of 49 previous winners at Rally Portugal come from Finland. Can you explain why Finnish drivers are so successful in Portugal?
Alén: It is a bit crazy really. I competed in Portugal 15 times and won the rally on five occasions, while never having to retire early either. So it seems to be a lucky place for me. Why Finnish drivers are so successful there? When I was driving, Rally Portugal always took place in February or March, and normally in the northern part of the country, and since 2015 this is again how the rally is scheduled. Maybe the layout in this region just suits our Finnish driving style. There aren’t too many bends, and there are plenty of fast sections that are great to drive. I loved driving there – it is a great rally and always a great show.

What did you like most about Rally Portugal when you were competing there?
Alén: I have a lot of great memories of Rally Portugal. In the 1980s, we drove some night stages on asphalt in the Group B cars. There were loads of spectators and it was just brilliant. You could compare it a bit with the special stage on Col de Turini at Rally Monte Carlo – but at night. In northern Portugal, however, the weather conditions in February and March were always very difficult. We had to deal with thick fog, lots of rain and very muddy special stages.

You experienced the era of the legendary Group B cars. Some changes are planned to the WRC regulations in 2017. Are you looking forward to the new generation of World Rally Cars?
Alén: Absolutely! The World Rally Cars are already fast. These changes will make them that bit faster – and louder, which the spectators will love. I think that the new regulations in 2017 will help to put on a really good show.

What do you think will be the new challenges facing the drivers in the 2017 cars?
Alén: The new cars won’t really be a new challenge as such. If you are a professional rally driver, you don’t have major problems with changes like this. The cars have 60 or 70 HP more under the hood, and the top drivers won’t find this difficult to deal with.


Citroën Racing continues development of its 2017 World Rally Car in Portugal

May 14, 2016

Three weeks after the first outing, Citroën Racing continued development of its 2017 World Rally Car in the south of Portugal. Faced with a variety of weather conditions, Kris Meeke and Stéphane Lefebvre racked up the miles during four days of testing.

After holding the first test in the south of France, Citroën Racing headed for Portugal and the Algarve for the second session of development testing for its 2017 World Rally Car. The team were treated to rain, hail, fog and even occasional sunshine as they worked on the new car. Before contesting Rally de Portugal with the Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team, Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle and Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau were busy behind the wheel of the prototype produced by the Versailles Technical Centre.

“We were actually quite pleased to have these variable conditions because they meant we could test different set-ups and assess how the bodywork stood up to being loaded with mud,” explained Laurent Fregosi, Citroën Racing’s Technical Director. “During the tests, we have several objectives. Obviously, we want to check the reliability of the various components. The mileage done by each part is noted down to make sure it tallies with the specifications. But our work is also focussed on looking for performance and driver comfort.”

After graduating in Engineering at INSA Lyon, Laurent Fregosi joined Citroën Racing in 1995, when the ZX Grand Raid dominated the Dakar Rally. He has therefore worked on every rally programme since the Xsara Kit-Car. Appointed Chief Engineer, Chassis, in 2005, Laurent took over from Xavier Mestelan-Pinon at the start of the year. Involved for over a year on the 2017 programme, the new Technical Director reflected on the origins of the car.

“Seeing our World Rally Car complete two long test sessions on demanding surfaces without encountering any major problems is very satisfying and just rewards for those who have been working on this project for over a year,” emphasized Laurent Fregosi. “As always, we began by drawing up a set of specifications, based on the FIA regulations and the Brand’s marketing goals. Once we had chosen the base model, we retrieved the CAD data in order to define the layout of the main components: engine, transmission, fuel tank, spare wheel, etc. The design of the roll cage stemmed from all these volumes as well as the regulatory position of the crew.”

Called on to produce the initial drawings, the design office then went to work on designing each part: “The approach is always the same: design hard-wearing, light components, whilst implicitly looking to adjust and lower the centre of gravity. The crews, as well as the engineers and technicians that will be running the car, were asked to give their opinion. We still need, for example, to improve the removal of parts that are likely to be replaced in service.”

“As ever, the work done factored in the experience acquired over the last twenty years or so at the highest level of world rallying. But we also added to our knowledge base by completing tests with a DS 3 WRC development mule,” revealed Laurent Fregosi. “Having reduced the pace of its development in 2014, we wanted to try out a few new solutions for the future. We used a Citroën C-Elysée WTCC engine, which meant the car immediately possessed the same power level as we’ll see next year. We also tested the latest suspension systems.”

Once approved by the Computation Design Office, the drawings were handed over to the various workshops (transmission, suspension-steering-brakes, electronics, plastic components, etc.) to manufacture the parts and then fit the sub-assemblies.

Packed into less than a month, the assembly of the first prototype involved the efforts of various teams: “It was a critical moment because some components took a long time to manufacture. In the workshops, the technicians adopted a just-in-time approach, so that we would be ready on schedule. Although we have already completed two test sessions, we’ve only just begun the journey. Analysing the data and driver feedback helps us to develop the technical definition whilst selecting the most efficient solutions. As the same time, we are also preparing a second car, which will be shortly used for testing on tarmac. This iterative way of working – which affects all areas, from the chassis to the engine, including the transmission and the aerodynamics – will continue until we need to obtain homologation of the car for the 2017 Rallye Monte-Carlo. That point seems so far away, and yet it’ll be here before we know it!”


Henri Toivonen’s Lancia Delta S4 in Rally Finland Harju Special Stage show run

May 2, 2016

Through his contacts, Harri Toivonen has been able to get Henri’s winning car from the 1985 RAC Rally, the Group B Lancia Delta S4, for a visit to Finland. Harri will be doing a show run with the car on the Harju City Special Stage on both the opening day of Neste Rally Finland, Thursday 28 July, and on Friday 29 July. A more detailed schedule will be announced closer to the event.

Henri Toivonen Tribute at Neste Rally Finland 28 – 31 July 2016

Henri Toivonen

This year marks the 60th anniversary of Henri Toivonen’s birth, and on 2 May 2016 it will be exactly 30 years since his fatal accident in Corsica. Toivonen will forever remain as one of motorsport’s great legends, both in Finland and around the world.

The Finnish round of the FIA World Rally Championship, Neste Rally Finland, will celebrate the memory of Henri Toivonen in collaboration with his brother Harri by launching a project called “Henri Toivonen Tribute at Neste Rally Finland”, which honours the memory of the talented driver in a worthy manner.

Through his contacts, Harri Toivonen has been able to get Henri’s winning car from the 1985 RAC Rally, the Group B Lancia Delta S4, for a visit to Finland. Harri will be doing a show run with the car on the Harju City Special Stage on both the opening day of Neste Rally Finland, Thursday 28 July, and on Friday 29 July. A more detailed schedule will be announced closer to the event.

– With this project we want to honour Henri’s career as one of the brightest stars in the world of rallying and remind people of the fact that he was Jyväskylä’s own son. That’s the reason why the Harju City Special Stage in Jyväskylä is the best possible place for celebrating his memory, says Neste Rally Finland Promoter Jani Backman.

Henri Toivonen’s World Rally Career

The Jyväskylä-based Rally Finland was an important event for Toivonen. The 1000 Lakes Rally of 1975 was Henri’s first rally – and not just his first World Rally Championship rally, but his first rally ever, as the 19-year-old rally driver had by then just managed to get rid of his “fresh-out-of-driving-school 80 km/h restriction”.

Henri Toivonen competed in his hometown rally a total of ten times, every year until his crash in Corsica. His first proper result in Jyväskylä came in 1984, when he finished third with a Lancia 037.

During his almost 10-year career on the world rally scene, Toivonen took part in 40 WRC rallies altogether being victorious in three of them. His first win was the 1980 RAC Rally, driving a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus. Toivonen won the RAC again in 1985 – driving the very same Lancia Delta S4, which is going to be seen on the Harju City Special Stage show run this summer. Toivonen’s biggest dream was to win the Monte-Carlo Rally, and he just managed to achieve that in 1986, with the same Lancia Delta S4.

Four months on from Monte, on 2 May 1986, Henri Toivonen and his co-driver Sergio Cresto died in an accident in the Tour de Corse rally in Corsica. Soon after that fatal accident, the FIA intervened by reassessing the WRC safety regulations, and as a result, the fairly un-restricted Group B rally cars for example were banned from competing, because they had become too dangerous for their drivers.

The old Group B cars are seldom seen on show runs around the world. The last time a Group B rally car was seen in Finland was in the Neste Oil Rally Finland Helsinki Battle event in 2014, when Juha Kankkunen took his Audi Quattro S1 out for a spin.

Finland’s Slot Machine Association (RAY), a not-for-profit Finnish gambling company, is also a partner in the tribute project. Information on other events organised by RAY in connection with the “Henri Toivonen Tribute at Neste Rally Finland” will be published later on, at the beginning of summer.



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