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Hyundai confirms i30 TCR program for December

Hyundai's i30 will join the TCR international racing series, pitched against the likes of the Ford Focus and Renault Megane.

Hyundai is screaming into the global touring car racing arena this year with plans for a bespoke competition version of its next-generation i30 hatchback.

The car, being developed by Hyundai Motorsport in Germany, is aimed directly at the international TCR (Touring Car Racer) regulations – that include cars such as the Ford Focus, Renault Megane and Opel Astra, running in more than a dozen TCR championships around the world.

Hyundai Motorsports will test the first cars in April and make vehicles available to customers and teams later this year, with December scheduled as the initial delivery date.

Hyundai Motor Company Australia PR boss Bill Thomas said the TCR car will use the third generation (PD) i30 – due in Australian showrooms in April – as the base, adding it will share technology and hardware with the two variant (184kW and 202kW) i30 N hot hatch range.

However, Mr Thomas said he did not yet have details about the drivetrain or about any plans for the sale of the car to customers.

"It will be made available to interested teams like other TCR cars, but we do not have any more details at the moment," he said.

Mr Thomas said the TCR project would be an addition to the company's World Rally Championship (WRC) program.

"There are no plans to drop WRC," he said.

"That is our premier international motorsport activity and is hugely valuable to the brand."

The TCR-spec i30 expands on the attributes of the road car that included testing on the Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit.

Speculation the new race car will be based on Hyundai's RN30 concept car shown at the 2016 Paris motor show appears to be wide of the mark.

The RN30, claimed to have a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine cranking 280kW/451Nm, is based on the PD i30, but was developed more as a test bed for the i30 N.

Hyundai said the TCR-spec i30 expands on the attributes of the road car that included testing on the Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit.

"In line with current TCR regulations the car will be powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine from within the Hyundai range, and fitted with a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox and 100-litre fuel tank," the company said.

"Work on the design began at Hyundai Motorsport in September last year. The building and development of the cars will also be completed at the company's headquarters in Alzenau, Germany.

"The creation of the new project continues the work started by the Customer Racing department on the New Generation i20 R5 rally car by showing the high-performance, dynamic side of Hyundai to a wider audience."

Hyundai Motorsport team principal Michel Nandan said the move into TCR was spurred by the success of the series around the world.

"By representing Hyundai in these championships our TCR car will promote the manufacturer in motorsport, together with our WRC and R5 projects," he said.

TCR promoter Marcello Lotti said the arrival of Hyundai into the series "adds even more prestige to a long list of famous brands that have decided to embrace the TCR concept and compete with their production models in an expanding number of racing series worldwide".

"We can't wait to see them join the international series where we believe that they will be competitive straight away."

Do you think Hyundai has what it takes to make a competitive i30 TCR racer? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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