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Top Gear take on Wales Rally GB in Hyundai i20

Top Gear take on Wales Rally GB in Hyundai i20

BBC Top Gear Magazine has race prepared a Hyundai i20 to take on the legendary stages of Wales Rally GB next month.

The popular magazine's Motoring Editor Ollie Marriage will compete at the UK event on November 13  16 in the B2 class, for under-1600cc front-wheel-drive machinery. Alongside him will be talented young up-and-coming co-driver Jack Morton. Jack is a member of the MSA Academy Junior Co-driver Programme, which is overseen by National Co-driver Coach and Colin McRae's former WRC navigator Nicky Grist.

Top Gear Magazine started out with a standard road car but the team has worked closely with Hyundai Motor UK and the MSA throughout the project, sourcing parts from the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team and remaining in regular contact and collaboration throughout.

Marriage explained their thought process: "The idea had been brewing for a while. The catalyst was a conversation we had shortly after Hyundai announced they were entering the WRC. Our aim was to take a standard road car and turn it into a rally car that looked as much like a WRC car as possible, but obviously didn't have the same power and mechanical complexity.

"We collected a Hyundai i20 Classic 1.2-litre with 82bhp from Tilbury Docks in January, and after putting some miles on it, we took it to 586 Engineering who have turned it into a rally car by completely stripping it down, putting a roll cage in and adding last year's body panels from the WRC test car. The whole process has been documented in Top Gear magazine and on the Topgear.com website over the last few months.

"We entered the Woodpecker Stages in August, where the car's flat-out speed was 67mph  and we didn't even get particularly close to hitting that very often! Since then, we've replaced the engine with a bigger 1.6-litre unit from Hyundai's Veloster Coupé, and after putting it on the dyno, it now produces 154bhp at the wheels. Much more like it.

"The main target for the rally has to be to get to the finish  the embarrassment of going off on day one is something I'm extremely keen to avoid! It's a tricky rally full of tricky stages and it's inevitable that we will get tired  so I just hope we can keep it on the island, drive over that finish ramp and tell a great story in the magazine."

He added: "That said, I'm a competitive soul and I would like to put in a respectable performance in our class. I'm just really excited about it and can't wait for the rally to start!"

As part of those preparations, Marriage and Morton also took on last weekend's Cambrian Rally organised by the North Wales Car Club, ahead of the main event in mid-November.

by: Rebecca Chaplin