The fix needed to make Hyundai’s Rally2 car fast again

After lacking speed on the Monte Carlo Rally, Hyundai has upgrades planned for its i20 N Rally2


There was a bit of an awkward moment during Monte Carlo Rally week.

What the pecking order in the World Rally Championship’s second division was likely to be was a point of discussion between DirtFish’s Colin Clark and former Hyundai team boss Andrea Adamo, especially with the backdrop of Toyota debuting its new Rally2 machine.

Clark was picking up speed as the debate went on. “We’ve seen how many of these Rally2 cars have turned up not the finished product, not good enough,” he said, gearing up to deliver some home truths. Turning to Adamo, he followed through: “You were in charge when one of the Hyundai Rally2s was awful.”

Adamo cut him off mid-flow. “Thank you for the nice words,” retorted Adamo, putting his hand around Clark. “It was years that you were waiting to kick my ass, eh?”


Hyundai's current Rally2 product made its debut in 2021

Today’s Hyundai i20 N Rally2 is by no means awful. But the season opener did show they have some work to do – and the presence of only a single i20 N Rally2 on Rally Sweden (Emil Lindholm’s CHL-run effort) suggests that while Škoda and Toyota have an army of customers in position to score victories, and Citroën has a formidable offering on asphalt, Alzenau has a bit of work to do.

We had a taste of the thrills to be expected on the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally: Citroën pairing Yohan Rossel and Nikolay Gryazin fought tooth and nail with Pepe López for victory. It was slightly telling that, having ditched his Hyundai for a Fabia, López was finally contending for Monte victory after of not quite being on the leading pace a year earlier – although he also had a troublesome fuel pump.

Behind that captivating scrap for the lead was Nicolas Ciamin in one of the two Hyundais. He ended the Monte a long, long way back according to the stopwatch, even if fourth place was his final reward. He’d finished four minutes away from the podium positions.

Ciamin is no slouch: he already has a WRC2 win to his name, topping the Central European Rally last year while driving a Škoda. But he struggled to show that same kind of pace once back in the i20 N Rally2.

For both Ciamin and everyone else who drives an i20 N Rally2, the next couple of months will be crucial. Updates are arriving.

Ciamin told DirtFish: ”The car was reliable; that’s the first point and it’s very important. Now, since the car was released, it has stayed quite the same and we’re waiting for plenty of updates in the next couple of months. We are anticipating it quite a lot because we were not able to fight at the very front. I pushed quite hard but it was not enough.”

Target number one is power: there simply isn’t enough grunt for the Rally2-flavored i20 to keep pace with its peers right now, according to Ciamin. But he’s hopeful that will change soon.


Ciamin hopes Hyundai's upgrades can move him up the WRC2 order

“From what we saw so far with the splits and everything, the engine is quite weak,” said Ciamin. “As long as it’s an uphill section we are really far off the pace. This is something they are working on already.

“Then the car needs to be versatile. In Monte it’s important because the conditions are changing quite a lot. For example in Croatia or CER, it’s difficult, it’s dirty but almost all the time the same, so the car would have been more efficient there I guess. But this is something that we are expecting to progress.”

Škoda’s deck is stacked: its car is a proven winner and with Oliver Solberg, Gus Greensmith and Pierre-Louis Loubet, it has three clear candidates to win the WRC2 title. Toyota’s car has now proven its winning capabilities with Mikko Heikkilä on Arctic Lapland Rally and has a potential dark horse for the WRC2 crown with Sami Pajari.

Hyundai does not start the year with the same impetus. Its new raft of upgrades during the next homologation cycle may well decide whether it can catch those rivals before they get too far up the road.