Hyundai Rallying Scene
If you believe a low budget rally team such as Hyundai doesn’t have what it takes to place in front of fully sponsored and technically mastered cars, look again. The Hyundai Scoupe won its first attempted rally ever in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 1991. After a reorganization of the company image in the early 90’s, Hyundai stayed out of the rally scene until 1997 when Hyundai sponsored Jeff Becker and Paul Choiniere to drive SCCA Tiburons until 2001, and again in 2002-2003. That year, Hyundai would run a specially built stock-bodied rally car that was featured in rally New Zealand and Indonesia driven by Wayne Bell and Lain Stewart. A year after that, Hyundai built the Hyundai Coupe Formula 2 as a F2 Class rally car with Motor Sport Developments in England. The Kit car contested in a few manufacturer World Rally Championship events. In 1999 Hyundai revitalized the Formula 2 by homologating it into an Evolution version 2. Colin McRae’s brother, Alister McRae was top driver partnered with David Senior. Along side were teammates Kenneth Eriksson and Staffan Paramander. The Hyundai wore the red, white, and blue colors of the original Pikes Peak car. Kenneth won points in the 555 China rally and stunned the media when it became possible for the Coupes to win the Formula 2 title two rallies away from the finish. Excited and motivated Deserving Alister and Eriksson who worked incredibly hard to bring the team to winning status, they were let down and forced to give up the winning World Title points to Renault F2 due to a blown engine at the last rally of Great Britain. Despite the great loss, they continued hoping for the new WRC car for the following year.
In 1999 The Hyundai Coupes were built in Formula 2 for a reason. They were not all-wheel-drive. Hyundai wanted to test their limits and get a feel for rallying at its toughest prior to a full World Rally program which gave way to Hyundais very first World Rally Car in 2000. Also built by the same production company MSD, the Acccent was driven by Mcrae and Eriksson until their contracts expired. Hyundai finished last place in the Championship while still working out faults. In 2001 Piero Liatti and Carlo Cassini drove the Accent along side Freddy Loix and Sven Smeets. In 2002 Armin Schwarz and Manfred Heimer. Tomasz Kuchar would also be given a position in some World Rallies. Hall of fame driver and master, Juha Kankkunen and Juha Repo would also drive for Hyundai from 2002-2003. The Accent had been given a new Castrol sponsorship in 2002 along with a new front end, hood, and spoiler. Juha Kankkunen had a challenging last rally in Great Britain. Hyundai gave Kankkunen the green light to push as hard as he could through the incredibly muddy finishing stages pushing the car into fourth ahead of Mitsubishi and Skoda. To Hyundai, fourth place overall was a major step up. In 2003 castrol dropped Hyundai. Hyundai had absolutely no sponsorship and after suffering a poor rally year in last place, let all of its fans down. Even after testing for San Remo rally, Hyundai swept up its program illegal of the WRC rules. It had missed the last three rallies and erased from the championship. Later that year the MSD mechanics sued Hyundai into paying their remaining wage contracts for that year, despite not being able to work for the remaining season. Hyundai promised a return to rallying in 2007 with a new team and a new car that was supposed to be built and designed in Hyundais newest design facility in Germany. In 2003 Hyundai came out with a concept of a possible rally car code named “RC” which looked like a compact minivan, and a first direct hatchback version of an accent named “SR”. Currently there are doubts cameras will ever capture high-powered Hyundai rally cars through their lens anytime soon.