Instead the i20 has been adapted to rallycross spec by GRX TANECO – the team run by two-time world rally champion Marcus Grönholm.
The pair of new i20 supercars are based on the platform that Hyundai ran in the 2016 WRC. FIA WRX Supercars pack 2.0-liter turbocharged engines, sending 600 horsepower to all four wheels to deliver 0-60 times of 1.9 seconds.
Short of full factory support, the partnership stems from Grönholm’s personal relationship with Hyundai rally team principal Michel Nandan. “We don’t have any manufacturer backing like some of the other teams in World Rallycross,” said Grönholm, “but we have a lot of information from when we bought the cars from Hyundai.” Reached for comment, Hyundai’s motorsport department confirmed that “this is a private project with no manufacturer involvement.”
The i20s will replace the Ford Fiestas that GRX has run until now. To drive the new cars, the team has lined up Timur Timerzyanov – a proven two-time European Rallycross Champion – alongside Marcus’ up-and-coming son Niclas.
“We know Timur can get the results and Niclas has been working hard this winter,” said Marcus. “He showed some good pace last year and I’m hopeful that they can both do good things this year. I will be surprised if we can’t be fighting with the big boys at least sometimes.”
The 2018 season kicks off in Barcelona next month. GRX and its new Hyundais will face stiff competition from proven talents like Mattias Ekström in the Audi S1, Sebastien Loeb in the Peugeot 208, Petter Solberg in the VW Polo, and Guerlain Chicherit in the Renault Megane. With Grönholm switching and Ken Block dropping out, though, it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing any Fords on the grid this year.