Hyundai has promoted Hayden Paddon into its first-string squad alongside Dani Sordo for the opening European event Rally de Portugal, as Thierry Neuville steps down to the second squad for the first time in 2016.

At the start of the year Hyundai's motorsport chiefs confirmed its trio of WRC drivers would spend the season rotating between the two spots eligible for scoring manufacturer championship points.

For Portugal Neuville will leave the top squad for the first event this season to be replaced by Paddon who traded drives with Sordo for his only previous top team outing at Rally Sweden.

Neuville will be joined by Hyundai's development driver Kevin Abbring at the Korean manufacturer's second-string squad for Portugal on the 19-22 May but the Dutchman will compete with a 2015-specification i20 World Rally Car for his season debut.

For next week's round four of the 2016 World Rally Championship in Argentina Neuville and Sordo will line-up in the first squad, supported by Paddon in the second team.