Hyundai has revealed a hybrid World Rally Championship race car based on the European-market i120 N. Wearing a checkered camouflage in the N performance label's trademark light blue, the prototype underwent testing somewhere in the south of France.
Officially called the Hyundai i20 N Rally1, it's the first car we've seen adopting the WRC's new standards. For three years starting in 2022, top-tier manufacturers will compete in the series with hybrid gasoline-electric powertrains.
"We are starting from scratch with brand-new rules, a different concept and a new base model," said team principal Andrea Adamo. “We have seen interesting things, some that need to be changed and improved, but it is all part of the process and of the job.” The i20 N Rally1 will now travel across Europe, testing in differing locations, conditions and terrains to parallel the WRC venues.
The hybrid rules are just one aspect of WRC's efforts to go green. Starting next year, WRC will use 100 percent sustainable fuels. Organizers say these are "drop in" and will not need special equipment or modification of existing engine designs.
The fuel is WRC's own blend, derived from two types of fossil-free sources. The first is biofuels, which are derived from biomass feedstock (waste from agricultural, forest product manufacturing, and municipal sources) synthesized with renewable energy. The second is synthetic fuels, made from carbon capturing CO2 from air and industrial waste, then using electrolysis from non-potable water to create the man-made power source. P1 Racing Fuels will have the exclusive 3-year contract starting in 2022.
2022 is the WRC's 50th anniversary, and the two-pronged strategy to move away from fossil fuels marks a sea change in the series. In addition to Hyundai, Ford and Toyota have both signed on, but neither has said which model their race cars will be based on. Toyota has tested using a Yaris mule, but it remains to be seen if that will be the final competition machine (It would be a shame if the homologation special GR Yaris was no more, though).