18 October 2014
WRC: Hyundai set to ‘push more’ on two rallies in one
Home hero Dani Sordo will lead a three-car Hyundai line-up as the 2014 WRC heads for its penultimate round on the mixed surfaces of Spain.
The Hyundai Shell World Rally Team is set to test its own limits as it attempts to determine exactly where it stands in the World Rally Championship hierarchy towards the end of its first season.
Gearing up for the penultimate round of the 2014 campaign – and the only mixed surface event of the season – Hyundai is aiming to use the rally to fully evaluate its performance level on tarmac, with team principal Michel Nandan happy for each of its three crews to push the boundaries.
“With this being the last tarmac rally of the season, we will ask our drivers to push more to see what level we have reached since France and the pre-event test,” he commented, “Rally de España will be a big challenge, not only for the drivers but for the entire team as it is like two rallies in one with stages on both gravel and tarmac and, of course, we are not expecting to be right at the top because this is still a development season for us, but it would be good to see Dani, Thierry and Hayden go for it a little bit more without compromising our key objective, which is – as always - to learn as much as possible for the future by getting all our cars to the finish.”
Three Hyundai i20 WRC cars will tackle the combination of gravel and asphalt stages with Thierry Neuville, local hero Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon at the wheel. While Sordo carried out the gravel prep pre-event, a longer tarmac test was conducted with all three drivers in Spain last week and Neuville - who finished fourth in Spain last year - will look at making the most of his previous experiences at the event and to bring home another positive result for the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team.
“As it is the only mixed surface event of the year, Rally de España is certainly a lot different to the other rallies we contest during the season,” the Belgian noted, “We tested on tarmac to accumulate more kilometres on this surface with the Hyundai i20 WRC and to find the best set-up possible for the specific kind of asphalt we will find in Spain. We will head to this rally with the objective of finishing the event without any problems and we will try to keep a good pace throughout the weekend. I learned a lot last year from this rally and will do my best for another positive performance.”
Sordo, meanwhile, will be making his twelfth appearance at his home rally, and is eager to continue the series of positive results he has achieved on tarmac this year. Running on home 'soil' will give an extra boost to the Spaniard, who will have lots of fans and supporters cheering for him on the stages, and Sordo admits that he is happy with the way the event unfolds.
“We have the first day on gravel and I prefer it like this; my position in the championship means I will have a good starting order and, hopefully, a cleaner road surface, which could help the overall result,” he explained, “It's not so hard to switch to tarmac for the final two days because you are going from not so much to plenty of grip. It's actually harder the other way around.”
New Zealander Paddon made his debut in a World Rally Car in last year's Rally de España, finishing in a remarkable eighth place, and he is hoping for a similar outcome as he makes his tarmac debut with the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team.
“It's great to return to Rally de España, a rally I've done a few times before and that I particularly enjoy,” he admitted, “However, I will tackle the rally with my feet on the ground as it will be our first time on tarmac with the Hyundai i20 WRC - there's a lot to learn and take in, but we've done a good test and preparations for the event and I think we're up to the task.
“The gravel stages on Friday might be a challenge so we will take them easy before we push a bit more on the nice fast and flowing tarmac stages on the final two days. These are stages on which I feel comfortable, it's only a matter of getting a good feeling with the car - I think if I can do that quite quickly in the event, we should be able to get a good result.”
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