- Hyundai Motorsport heads to Sardinia for round six of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) seeking better fortune than in Rally de Portugal last month
- The team will enter four cars for the second consecutive rally with Test and Development driver Kevin Abbring joining Hayden Paddon, Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville
- Sardinia will offer Hyundai Motorsport happy memories from last year’s event in which the team secured its best finish of the season with a double podium result.
- Hyundai Motorsport will be looking to return to form at next weekend’s Rally Italia Sardegna, the sixth round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), following a tough event in Portugal.
The team will once again field four cars with an unchanged driver line-up from the last round. Hayden Paddon and Dani Sordo will represent the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team, driving the #3 and #4 New Generation i20 WRCs, while Kevin Abbring joins Thierry Neuville in the Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team. Neuville will once again compete in the #20 New Generation i20 WRC with Abbring driving a 2015-specification Hyundai i20 WRC.
It’s been a busy time for Hyundai Motorsport. Paddon’s crash in Portugal, and the subsequent fire that ensued, resulted in his car being destroyed, so the team has had to build a brand new car from scratch. Paddon’s crew returned from Portugal earlier than the rest of the team to begin work and impressively turned around the job in just seven working days.
At the same time, the team also carried out its pre-event test in Sardinia with all four driver crews spending one full day each preparing for the event. Work centred on fine-tuning gravel suspension and car settings in anticipation for the Sardinian stages.
Returning to the coastal resort town of Alghero, where Hyundai Motorsport celebrated a double podium in 2015, Italy’s summer WRC round is a rough, rock-strewn gravel challenge that often favours a lower road position. Ambient temperatures can top 30 degrees Celsius and cause strain on engines, tyres, components and crews as the cockpits reach 50-plus over a stage.
There will be new challenges to tackle in this year’s event. Two new stages called Sassari-Argentiera and Tula feature on the itinerary, and a new Super Special Stage test close to Alghero replaces the previous rally-opener held in the south at Cagliari. Some of the remaining stages are deemed Sardinia classics, dating back to the island’s inclusion on the WRC calendar in 2004 as the new Italian venue.
The New Generation i20 WRC has proven to be competitive during the first five WRC events of this season, with podiums in Monte Carlo and Sweden and a spectacular win in Argentina. Despite taking a solid fourth in Portugal, the team will be aiming for a smoother rally in Sardinia - and be looking for a return to the podium.
Rally Italia Sardegna is often a rally of attrition, as ruts and rocks form car-damaging hazards especially during the repeat run of each stage. Ittiri Arena Show Super Special near the service park location in Alghero will open competition on Thursday evening before eight tests on Friday in the Logudoro and Anglona regions, including the all-new Tula stage.
Monte Actuo plays host to day two in the eastern part of the north with six stages totalling a massive 177 competitive kilometres. The final day takes place just north of Alghero with the picturesque Cala Flumini coastal road and the new Sassari-Argentiera stage, which forms the event’s 6.96km Power Stage.
*Full media guide available in the download (top of this page)