Hyundai has pulled the plug on its motorsports partnership with Rhys Millen Racing (RMR), a move that effectively exits the brand from Global RallyCross and Formula Drift competition.
RMR announced on its website this week that its relationship with Hyundai will cease following the 2012 Formula Drift and Global RallyCross Championship season so that the brand’s marketing team can focus on new strategies. The timing for this is especially odd considering RMR just captured the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb course record in a tuned Hyundai Genesis Coupe last month, a goal company founder and race driver Rhys Millen has been chasing for years.
Though Hyundai is abandoning those two motorsports series for now, the brand will continue to race in other international series. Evidence of this can be seen in the Hyundai i20 rally car concept, which debuts this week in Paris. That car will mark Hyundai’s return to the World Rally Championship, which the brand last contested in 2003. RMR is currently searching for primary and manufacturer sponsors for 2013 and on.
In addition to the i20 race car concept, Hyundai also brought two- and four-door versions of its new i30 hatchback to Paris. Though we get the four-door hatchback in the U.S. as the Elantra GT, the two-door model has eluded the U.S. market. Check out both cars in the gallery below.
UPDATE: Hyundai spokesman Jim Trainor got back to us with the following statement:
"Hyundai Motor America has made a decision to step back and re-evaluate its motorsports strategy in order to determine what is best for the brand following the conclusion of the 2012 Global Rallycross and Formula Drift seasons. We are also reconsidering our continued involvement in Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, having achieved the world record in a Hyundai Genesis Coupe this year."Source: RMR, Hyundai