- Hyundai Motorsport has announced its test driver Kevin Abbring is to take part in Portugal and Sardinia rallies as part of a four-car entry for the team
- Abbring will run the latest specification 2015 Hyundai i20 WRC for these two events, which will be the first of three events for the Dutchman in this year’s WRC
- Abbring has helped to develop both the New Generation i20 WRC and R5 Customer Project car, running a combined programme of test and competitive kilometres
- Hyundai Motorsport announced that its test and development driver Kevin Abbring will compete in three rounds of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship, starting with Rally de Portugal and Rally Italia.
The Dutchman will drive the latest specification of the 2015 Hyundai i20 WRC, the same car that Hayden Paddon used in the Monte-Carlo 2016 season opener, wearing the #10. Alongside British codriver Seb Marshall, Abbring competed in five WRC events last year, showing his potential as he memorably ran as high as second place in Tour de Corse.
Rally de Portugal’s gravel terrain will offer a beneficial learning experience for Abbring, who is more experienced in tarmac events. He will then continue his programme at the subsequent event on the 2016 WRC calendar, Rally Italia Sardegna, in June.
The Dutchman hopes to accelerate his learning curve across successive events while striving to achieve the best possible overall result for the Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team. His third competitive rally of 2016 has not yet been decided.
Abbring has spent the start of 2016 carrying out development of the New Generation i20 R5 customer Motorsport car for Hyundai Motorsport’s new Customer Project. He has also been instrumental in development of the New Generation i20 WRC that has taken two podium results in the three opening rounds of the new WRC season.
Abbring said: “I am very excited to have the first two of my three rallies this year in Portugal and in Sardinia. The two rallies are right after one another so I should benefit from the momentum going from one event to the next. Obviously, when you are not in the car a lot, you have to prepare everything twice as well. We gained some really positive WRC experience last year, so my objective for Rally de Portugal will be to get into the rhythm as soon as possible and then achieve a top-ten classification. We will be starting with the 2015 car, but that won’t matter for these events. I have rallied in Portugal and Sardinia twice each, four or five years ago. It has been a while so I am very excited to be back in the car again. The gravel surface is less known to me but this makes it more exciting. I’ve got plenty of work now that I can focus on these two rallies. One of my future targets is to do all rallies in the Championship but, for the moment, I have a huge job with developing two cars - the New Generation i20 WRC and the R5 car.”
Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “We have always thought that it is a good move to have a test driver who also does some competitive kilometres. We agreed with Kevin that this year he would do three rallies in the latest 2015 edition of our WRC car, as part of a four-car programme alongside our three regular crews. At the beginning of the year Kevin was very busy with R5 testing, which was the absolute priority, but now we are a bit further into the season we have more spare time to offer him some WRC events. We have decided on Portugal and Sardinia because they will offer him a useful learning experience on gravel. He’ll be driving the same specification Hyundai i20 WRC that Hayden used in Monte-Carlo. It’s a car that Kevin already knows well, feels comfortable with and which will offer him the best chance to achieve a good result. He showed his potential in Corsica last year with an eye-catching performance, so we are looking forward to seeing what he can do this season.”