In a move to strengthen its assault on the World Rally Championship, Hyundai has announced that from 2015, Frenchman Bryan Bouffier will join the team as test driver on the Hyundai i20 WRC programme.
He’ll be getting stuck in this year, too, joining the team for a number of development tests before the 2015 season begins.
In fact, Bouffier will get a run in the car next time out at the Rallye Antibes Cote d’Azur next month as part of the French Rally Championship. It’ll be a great exercise to allow Bouffier to acclimatise to the car before taking to a stage in the WRC proper.
Bouffier has history with the team, too, contributing towards the development of the i20 WRC last year before Hyundai returned to the championship.
Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal, Michel Nandan:
“We are happy to welcome Bryan back into the team after the great job he did with us last year.
“We have been talking for a while now and we decided that he definitely deserved another opportunity. He will be with us in various development tests throughout the year as we prepare for 2015 and I’m sure that once again he will help a lot.
“We decided to participate in Rallye Antibes Côte d’Azur next month to do some mileage on tarmac and test some components for the second half of the season in a competitive environment rather than in a traditional test session.
“Having won Rallye Antibes before and being a French tarmac rally specialist, Bryan was the obvious choice for this event which we will treat the event as a test for collection of data to continue the development of the Hyundai i20 WRC.”
At 35 years of age, Bouffier arguably holds the perfect balance between youthful ambition and wise experience, meaning he’s the perfect fit for a team like Hyundai, returning to the WRC full time this year.
Having driven other WRC vehicles, such as the Ford Fiesta RS WRC and the Citroen DS3 WRC, his knowledge of other vehicles gives him a perfect scale to benchmark and develop the i20 WRC.
Bouffier on his return to the team:
“I’m really happy to be again a part of the Hyundai Motorsport team. We had a very cooperative collaboration in 2013 and I’m glad we can continue it throughout this year as well.
“I will be joining some of the team’s development tests during this season and I will do my best to help them to prepare for the 2015 season, bringing my experience and knowledge and giving the team the most detailed feedback possible.
“I’m also grateful to be given the opportunity to drive the Hyundai i20 WRC at Rallye Antibes, an event I won back in 2006 and where I enjoy driving every time I go there. The aim is to do some good mileage on tarmac and give the team as much feedback as possible for the remainder of the season.”
We’ll keep you updated as to how Bouffier and the Hyundai i20 WRC fare at next month’s Rallye Antibes event.