The Hyundai marque will appear in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) for the first time in 2020, as Independent team EXCELR8 Motorsport confirms it will design and build two new cars based on the striking i30 Fastback N Performance.
The 2019 season was a landmark for EXCELR8 Motorsport, which made the step up to the top tier of British motorsport by running the venerable MG6 cars that had previously been a feature of the grid since their introduction back in 2012. The miles logged with the MGs this year has allowed the team to build up significant understanding of the underpinnings and intricacies of the Next Generation Touring Car (NGTC) regulations, and the competitive landscape of the BTCC itself.
The Suffolk-based squad has made no secret of its intention to develop new machinery in order to progress up the grid in its second season, and the team evaluated models from a range of manufacturers before settling on the i30 Fastback N Performance – with the groundwork for the switch being laid during the BTCC’s annual summer break in July.
Launched in early 2019, the road-going i30 Fastback N Performance shares all of its running gear with the 271bhp, front-wheel-drive i30 N Performance hatchback that made its debut to such acclaim in 2017, but with a 7% increase in torsional stiffness thanks to the coupe-like bodyshell.
EXCELR8 Motorsport is no stranger to developing new cars, having been responsible for the development, build and global distribution of over 70 MINI CHALLENGE cars, which compete in the headline John Cooper Works class in the UK, as well as Japan and China.
The design process for the i30 Fastback N Performance began in late September and the team has strengthened its technical department with a new relationship with seasoned NGTC design consultants. The programme also has the support of key players in Hyundai’s UK Dealer Network.
Additionally, with hybrid technology set to be introduced to the BTCC in 2022, EXCELR8 is also in consultation with Cosworth Electronics, which will be responsible for the BTCC Hybrid System, in order to futureproof the design of the i30 Fastback N Performance to extract the maximum benefit from the additional electrification.
Oliver Shepherd, EXCELR8 Team Principal, said: “The build of the Hyundais marks the next stage in our multi-year plan to become a title contender in the British Touring Car Championship. The i30 Fastback N Performance offers a very favourable combination of wheelbase, track width, drag coefficient and torsional stiffness, so we are extremely excited about the prospects of this project. It’s going to be an extremely busy winter, but the whole team is extremely motivated to get the cars out on track as soon as possible.”
Justina Williams, EXCELR8 Team Owner, said: “The 2019 season has been a real success for the team having achieved all the goals we set for ourselves at the start of the season. On track we scored points with both drivers in our first season, and from operational, commercial and presentation points of view we were able to compete with the established frontrunners. With the development of these new cars we should not only be achieving better results, but also deliver increased value for our Brand Partners, especially as we are first out of the blocks with the introduction of hybrid technology.”
Alan Gow, BTCC Chief Executive, added: “It’s fantastic to see another new marque join the BTCC, this time with EXCELR8 Motorsport. When we set the NGTC regulations it was for precisely this purpose, to allow this sort of diversity between teams and drivers. Hyundai is a globally recognised brand, which has made a big impact in other forms of motor sport already. This new project from EXCELR8 should make a great addition to the grid. It’s been fascinating to see how the team has grown across its maiden season in the BTCC, and the attitude and work ethic the team has shown while it gets up to speed. It’s no secret that the MGs were one of the oldest chassis on the grid, and the job the team had done to refresh them was very impressive. I look forward to seeing how much of a step forward EXCELR8 Motorsport can make with the new-generation Hyundais.”
The 2020 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season begins at Donington Park on 28/29 March, and will conclude 30 races later at Brands Hatch on 10/11 October.