Steve Hendy is expected to be one of the leading drivers taking part in the opening round of the national gravel rally championship, the Bournemouth-based Rallye Sunseeker, later this month, but admits that he might be relying on leading tyre manufacturer Hankook for some help.

Best known for his expertise on asphalt, Hendy will be switching to the gravel for the event and, along with co-driver Aled Davies, is hoping that the tyre company can produce the sort of result he has come to expect on his favoured surface.

"The Sunseeker is my local event, so it's always a good one to support," he said, admitting that his highest finish to date has been seventh overall, "We are really hoping for a top five finish, although this is the first rally of the season and I have not been in the forests for some time."

Hendy conceded that testing time is likely to be tight before the rally, which may make for some interesting lines on the high-speed tests.

"We have used Hankooks extremely successfully on the asphalt rallies in Belgium and I know they are great on gravel, so we are confident that the car will be ready for the conditions," he reasoned.

The family Hendy Group will back the Focus WRC for the event, with a service crew be sourced from the group's leading local technicians. The rally gets underway on Bournemouth seafront on Friday 27 February, with two short blasts in the dark before a full day of action in the forests around Dorset and a visit to Somerley House.

"It's a great local event for the whole Hendy Group," Hendy said, "And, with Hankook on board, we have a strong package to bid for a top finish."

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