Hyundai has announced experienced motorsport engineer Michael Nandan as team principle of its new WRC team. Nandan will oversee development of the Hyundai i20 WRC car, which is being readied to take on the VW Polo R WRC and Citroen DS3 WRC from 2014.
Nandan, 54, started at Peugeot in the late 80s, and has worked for Opel, Toyota, Suzuki and, most recently, at the French motor sport federation. However, the Hyundai WRC appointment is his first team principle role.
An interim version of the Hyundai WRC car has already been built and tested in South Korea. But, with the appointment of Nandan, Hyundai Motorsport will now embark on an intensive test and development programme for its new i20 WRC car. The teams plans to compete on one event this year, ahead of a full campaign in 2014.
Drivers will be announced at a later date, with the experienced Petter Solberg, currently out of a drive, believed to be a front-runner.
The Hyundai WRC programme is likely to spawn higher performance road-going models. Talking about the firm’s decision to enter the WRC, Tak Uk Im, Executive Vice President & COO of Hyundai Motor, said:
"Hyundai is excited to re-enter WRC, and we're back not just to compete, but to win. Hyundai and WRC form a perfect match, and our racing experience will translate directly into performance and handling improvements in our road-going vehicles."
The Hyundai World Rally Team will be run from the firm’s bespoke motorsport subsidiary, Hyundai Motorsport GmbH, which is based in Alzenau, Germany, just outside of Frankfurt, where Hyundai’s European HQ is also situated.
Hyundai’s previous WRC effort ran from 2000 to 2003. However, that car was run by British team Motor Sport Developments. The Hyundai i20 WRC effort is fully in-house, mirroring Volkwagen’s WRC team.