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GP Week : Issue 172
caused delays in the Coupe Kit Car project but finally in mid-season in New Zealand in 1997 this finally appeared. At the end of 1997 an Accent was driven on the Network Q Rally where Jimmy McRae finished second in his class. That event was important for another reason. It was the first time that a Hyundai rally car had been prepared in Europe, by Motor Sport Developments (MSD). Wayne Bell almost single handedly brought Hyundai into international rally competition. From his New South Wales base in Australia, he progressively impressed the Korean company officials with his results, initially at Rally Australia, later in the Asia-Pacific series, and his work opened their awareness to the benefits of international sport activity. Bell’s operation worked side-by-side with MSD during 1998. A wide bodied ‘Evo 2’ Coupe Kit Car version was then introduced in New Zealand that year and all the while the British company was designing a turbocharged four- wheel-drive World Rally Car version of the Accent as well as running the Coupes on occasional appearances in the FIA’s official 2-litre championship. In 1999 a more concerted effort was made in the FIA’s ‘Formula 2’ series, now using Xtrac transmissions, and the company eventually finished second behind Renault. The main success for the company was winning the Manufacturers' Cup in the APRC, with Kenneth Eriksson and Alister McRae driving. The Accent World Rally Car programme started in 1999 under the technical guidance of Nick Clipson. The cars first appeared on the Swedish Rally in 2000 and continued through to the end of the 2003 season, and in this time there were no fewer than three different versions of the car. A turbocharged version of the Coupe Kit Car engine was used, fitted with a Garrett turbocharger, as already used in American championship rallies. The Coupe engine was renowned for its very long stroke, but for WRC purposes the bore was widened and the stroke shortened, and from the start only an active central differential was used. Active hybrid system front and rear differentials followed a lot later on. Through the season, power steering problems plagued the team. In Portugal 2001 the second version appeared with longer travel suspension and remote damper reservoirs. The fuel tanks were relocated and there were aerodynamic changes including a revised rear wing with a strange ‘wire- cutter’ end piece design. The third version Accent WRC car appeared at Corsica in 2002 with a still shorter stroke engine and changes in the engine induction routings. In New Zealand 2003 a limited number of upgrades including revised turbocharger housings and shock absorbers prepared in-house at MSD were introduced, but this was to be all. In September 2003 the programme came to an end. The final farewell was fittingly where the story began, at Rally Australia. The ex-works cars were then used very successfully at club and national rally level for several years. Accounting problems were the root cause of the closure of the programme. Funds due to MSD from Hyundai Motor Company in Korea were delayed and MSD, already further frustrated with long delays in the availability of a new version engine, closed the operation. HMC then announced that they had plans themselves to return to the championship in 2006 with a new model. In fact, this looks like having been deferred for quite a long time! Bell: “I guess my only great surprise was that the Accent WRC project happened so quickly. WRC >>> FEATURE ABOVE LEFT: Rally Indonesia, 1995, Wayne Bell/Iain Stewart, Hyundai Lantra – first in class. RIGHT: Rally of Portugal, 1999. McRae/Senior Hyundai Coupe Kit Car (Images: Martin Holmes Rallying) 35 GPWEEK.com // 35 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: