With two Hyundai World Rally cars from the past in tow, we went along to the local Eifel Rallye Festival to offer some very special co-drives as part of the July summer event. A total of 14 guests, including competition winners and journalists, enjoyed the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ride in a WRC car.
The demonstration event celebrated six decades of rallying, with car entries from as early as 1963. Hyundai contributed to two of the decades, with the 2003 Accent WRC and 2014 i20 WRC separated by nearly 12 years.
Driven by Armin Schwarz and Thierry Neuville, the aim was also to provide a special showcase for the thousands of fans who turned out to see their past and current rally heroes.
The Accent was active in the World Rally Championship from 2000 through to the end of 2003 and under the required specification, featured a 1,998cc turbo-charged engine producing 300bhp on a 4WD platform. Compared to 2014’s smaller 1,600cc turbo-charged engine package producing the same power output and it is easy to see how far the technology has come.
German driver Armin competed in the WRC across three decades from 1988 to 2005 with a number of factory teams, including the Hyundai World Rally Team in 2002 and 2003. He was teamed with Belgian driver Freddy Loix.
“Thanks to Hyundai for providing a great car,” Armin said. “You always feel welcome here, the rally is right in the middle of the city of Daun. It’s a real festival and there is so much enthusiasm that we can bring our sport to the fans.”
“Hyundai had the great idea to bring the cars,” Thierry added. “To see the old WRC car with Armin driving it like in the past, it’s great for the spectators! I hope my driving style has appealed to the fans, I’ve always tried to be spectacular.”
There was an added silver lining to our special co-drives. One of the lucky competition winners was drawn from a community raffle put together by the Eifel Rallye Festival organisers in support of the local association for Promotion of Youth Work. A total of €2,000 was raised for a chance to join Thierry in the i20 WRC!
“It’s been a long time since I have had a different co-driver!” Thierry explained. “It was a great experience and the guests did very well I must say! The pace notes were very easy, but it was still important to find a good rhythm.”