2016 Hyundai I20 WRC | Anatomy Of A Rally Car
2016 Hyundai I20 WRC | Anatomy Of A Rally Car

2016 Hyundai I20 WRC | Anatomy Of A Rally Car

The conversion from road to race is far more than just a sticker job and a fancy body kit. Peter Anderson investigates.

World Rally cars might look like alien cars and for the price, they may as well be. For the princely sum of €450,000 (AU$645,078) before on-roads (in this case tyres, support crew, a plane or two to truck the semi-trailer worth of gear around the world...) you are getting a car that bears more than a passing resemblance to the Hyundai i20.

The team takes a standard shell and installs a cage for strength, safety and to make the car as stiff as possible to amp up the handling. The suspension is re-worked to allow quick changes not only in the rally service park, taking just minutes, but for all of the different road conditions across the season (just for fun, gearboxes take 20 minutes to change as opposed to 10-20 hours for a road car).

The panels on the doors are roughly the same but often lost under a mess of stickers and huge aero blisters, which for 2017 will be even bigger for more downforce. The rear wing on a World Rally Championship car makes real downforce, although there's a large amount of time spent sideways, so that's all down to the specially-developed tyres and, of course, driver and co-driver.

You might want to keep the Panadols handy, because it's loud in there.

The Hyundai 1.6 litre turbo's engine block is then taken and all of the parts strengthened to triple the power and torque to take the top speed to over 200km/h. A paddle-shift gearbox is fitted with six gears, and in the Hyundai there's just one big paddle - push for down, pull for up.

It's not especially difficult to make a car do 200km/h in a straight line, but a World Rally car has to cope with a huge range of conditions. From the snows of Sweden, the mud and ruts of Rally GB in Wales and Coffs Harbour's dry and dusty forestry trails and then the reality of check of Germany's narrow, obstacle-strewn tarmac, these cars have to work everywhere, often on several different surfaces on one stage, changing with every driver that comes through.


Inside there's a few details that will be familiar to overseas i20 owners - we don't get the new car here, sadly - the door pulls have survived and while the dashboard has been chucked out along with all of the carpets, seats and any creature comfort fitted, there's a much thinner replacement of the dashboard that looks like the standard car's. But not much.

The seats are set low and as far back as the engineers can get away with. Getting in means threading yourself through the roll cage and into the seat, although you can pop the steering wheel off to ease the journey in. The co-driver sits even further back, practically on the floor. He doesn't have to see much, he has notes to read to tell the driver what's coming, how fast to go and what to watch out for.

Upwards of six hundred grand buys you a super-fast rally car good for a year's motoring all around the world, but just for two passengers. And you might want to keep the Panadols handy, because it's loud in there.

We also played Boggle with it:


Can you picture yourself behind the wheel of a WRC car? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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