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    Hyundai Set to Join the Prestigious Hypercar Class of the World Endurance Championship

    (GT Racing News, July 2023) – Motorsport enthusiasts are buzzing with the news that Hyundai is gearing up to enter the World Endurance Championship’s (WEC) prestigious Hypercar class and compete at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans within the next three years.

    According to Motorsport.com, the South Korean automotive giant is developing an LMDh hybrid prototype that could see Hyundai Motorsport debut in the GTP category of the IMSA SportsCar Championship as early as 2026. This move has been facilitated by the recent two-year extension of the LMDh and Le Mans Hypercar rulesets in both the WEC and IMSA until the end of 2029.

    “We are exploring different categories and have a desire to make it clear our ambition in this sport.”

    • Cyril Abiteboul, Hyundai Motorsport president and team principal

    When asked about Hyundai’s future motorsport plans at the recent Rally Poland, Hyundai Motorsport president and team principal Cyril Abiteboul remained coy, stating that the company is “exploring different categories” and has a desire “to make it clear our ambition in this sport.” However, he did suggest that a major announcement from the Hyundai Motor Group, the world’s third-largest carmaker by sales, could come as soon as September.

    While Abiteboul did not confirm the prototype programme is under evaluation, sources indicate that the LMDh car, developed at Hyundai Motorsport’s base in Germany, could begin racing in 2026 – the final year of the current World Rally Championship (WRC) technical regulations, in which Hyundai has fielded a factory programme since 2014.

    The potential WEC/IMSA entry would require Hyundai to have already started the development of the prototype and its hybrid powertrain. It is understood that the company has identified French constructor ORECA as its chassis development partner, with Hyundai likely to produce the LMDh engine in-house, similar to its WRC powertrains.

    Motorsport.com has also learned that Hyundai is in contact with Chip Ganassi Racing, which will part ways with Cadillac at the end of the 2024 season. A deal with the renowned American racing team would allow Hyundai to compete in both the WEC and IMSA series with the same squad.

    Hyundai’s interest in sportscar racing, potentially under the banner of its Genesis luxury brand, is not new. The company is known to have taken a place on various FIA technical working groups, including the one exploring the introduction of hydrogen power in the WEC, scheduled for 2028.

    It remains unclear how a potential move into the Hypercar class would affect Hyundai’s involvement in the WRC. Despite recent speculation, the brand’s commitment to the series was further outlined earlier this year through a project to effectively homologate a new i20 N Rally1 car for introduction in 2023.

    Abiteboul has been a key figure in driving positive change within the WRC, and the manufacturer appears keen to maintain its presence in the championship, even as it explores new avenues in the world of endurance racing.

    ๐Ÿ”— Source