- Hyundai Motorsport will field four cars in next weekend’s Rally Portugal as it aims to continue its strongest ever start to a WRC season
- Test and Development driver Kevin Abbring will join regular drivers Hayden Paddon, Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville for the first of three scheduled WRC events in 2016
- Following its triumph in Rally Argentina last month, the team heads to Portugal in confident mood and aiming for another podium push with the New Generation i20 WRC
- Hyundai Motorsport will enter four cars into next weekend’s Rally de Portugal (May 19~22), round five of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), to continue its impressive start to the season.
Test and development driver Kevin Abbring will make his 2016 WRC debut alongside co-driver Seb Marshall, driving the 2015 specification Hyundai i20 WRC, as used by Hayden Paddon in Rallye Monte-Carlo. He will line-up alongside the team’s regular drivers, including Paddon, Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville - the first time this season that Hyundai Motorsport will have a four-car entry.
The team celebrated a popular victory at Rally Argentina with Hayden Paddon and John Kennard clinching their first WRC triumph in spectacular style with a stunning Power Stage win. It was the first rally success for the New Generation i20 WRC in just its fourth event, following podium results in Monte-Carlo, Sweden and fourth-place in Mexico.
Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “We are still on something of a high after our win in Argentina, but we know that Rally Portugal will be another new challenge. We will be running four cars there as Kevin joins us for the first of three WRC rounds this season. He showed his potential with us last year - who can forget his impressive showing at Corsica - but Portugal will give him a chance to increase his experience on gravel. Our New Generation i20 WRC has met our high expectations so far but we’re still finding ways to improve the car further. We have had a great start to the season but this is only round five so we have to keep concentrated on the job in hand and get the best out of ourselves.”
Paddon (#3 New Generation i20 WRC) and co-driver John Kennard stood atop the Argentinian podium after a highly competitive rally in which they took maximum points. They will approach Rally Portugal with renewed vigour and caution, with their sights on a top-three result.
Paddon commented: “We’ve finally had chance to take in what happened in Argentina! It’s still a great feeling and a weekend I will never forget but we have to push the reset button now, as we prepare for Portugal. We’re heading into a string of European rallies where we have a lot more experience. We want to continue with the level of performance we showed in Argentina, fighting more regularly at the front. The New Generation i20 WRC has performed strongly so far but we know where we have more performance to find, and the team is working hard to make improvements rally by rally. I’m excited to see what we can do.”
Abbring (#10 Hyundai i20 WRC) and co-driver Seb Marshall took part in five WRC events with Hyundai Motorsport last season. They will join the team for three WRC events this year, starting in a 2015-specification Hyundai i20 WRC in Portugal, alongside their testing duties, which has included development of the New Generation i20 R5.
Abbring said: “I am very excited to be returning to competitive WRC action. As a test driver, it’s good to get competitive kilometres under your belt as well as all the development work, so I can’t wait to get started. I have previous experience of rallying in Portugal from JWRC several years ago, but the stages in the north of the country are new to me. It feels a bit like I am starting again but I just have to focus on my driving and do the best job I can for the team. I will be using the 2015 specification Hyundai i20 WRC, which I am familiar with from last year, and which we know has good potential. It’s another learning experience for me so we have to take things stage by stage. I really want to finish in the top 10 and score some points, but I see Portugal as a step towards Sardinia where I really hope I can do more.”
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