Hyundai Motorsport ready for mixed surface Spanish challenge with four crews.

2016 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 11, Rally de France, Tour de Corse 2016 / September 28 - October 02, 2016 // Worldwide Copyright: Hyundai Motorsport

Hyundai Motorsport will compete with four crews in Rally de España, round 11 of the 13-event 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)
The team’s objective for the mixed surface rally will be to extend its recent run of podium finishes and to consolidate second in the Manufacturers’ Championship
Thierry Neuville and home star Dani Sordo will represent the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team, with Kevin Abbring joining Hayden Paddon for the Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team.

Rally de España Preview
07 October 2016

Alzenau, Germany

October 7, 2016 – Fresh from its second-placed finish at Tour de Corse, Hyundai Motorsport has been busy preparing for the unique mixed surface challenge of Rally de España, round 11 of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship, which takes place next week.

The team will tackle the popular gravel-tarmac event with a four-crew line-up. Thierry Neuville will return to the #3 New Generation i20 WRC after his Corsican podium. Dani Sordo will be back in the #4 car for his home rally as he aims to repeat his podium from last season.

Hayden Paddon will contest the Spanish event in the #20 car for the Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team, and will be joined by Kevin Abbring. The Dutchman and co-driver Seb Marshall will drive the #10 2015-specification Hyundai i20 WRC. It will be their fourth WRC participation this season after competing in Portugal and Sardinia, and as a replacement for Sordo in Finland.

The town of Salou will again play host to Rally de España, the only event on the calendar where crews will have to tackle a variety of surface types. The first full day of action will take place primarily on gravel, although the 38.95km Terra Alta test includes asphalt sections, which will put great emphasis on driver concentration and tyre management. Adding to the complexity of Friday’s itinerary, there will be no lunchtime service, with only a tyre fitting zone splitting the morning and afternoon loops.

On Saturday and Sunday the rally moves to full asphalt, requiring the team’s mechanics to change the car specification during an extended 75-minute Friday evening service. Saturday’s schedule includes some sections that have not been used since 2013 – and which will be totally new to Hyundai Motorsport – and some parts that are run in the reverse direction to twelve months ago.

Hyundai Motorsport carried out a pre-event test on tarmac in Spain at the end of August as well as giving all crews an additional opportunity on gravel this week. The team aims to bring 2016 to a competitive finish, having already taken two wins, three second-places and three third-place results this season.

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “We are in a busy period of the season so the work of the entire team is intensified. Spain’s unique multi-surface schedule is a challenge not only for our crews but also for our mechanics and engineers. It is always special to watch them in service action on Friday evening as they change the cars from gravel to tarmac specification in just 75 minutes. With no lunchtime service on Friday, it’s a tough day so everyone has to be on top form. We welcome back Kevin and Seb in a WRC car for this event; it will be another useful learning weekend for them in the 2015-spec Hyundai i20 WRC. For our other three crews, the target will be the same as recent events – to aim for the podium. We know it will be a close battle but the New Generation i20 WRC has shown its potential and I hope we will be in the fight.”

Neuville (#3 New Generation i20 WRC) moved up to third place in the WRC Drivers’ Championship following his second-place in Corsica. The Belgian, who has just extended his contract with Hyundai Motorsport into 2017 and 2018, and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul have been one of the highest scoring WRC crews since their win in Sardinia back in June.

Neuville said: “We have had a good run in recent rallies, so I am hopeful of continuing that trend in Spain. It is a very interesting one with its combination of two different surfaces, gravel and tarmac. It gives the rally an additional challenge for everyone. It is a beautiful event and one to which I always look forward. It was my first WRC rally back in 2009, so it holds special memories. After our podium in Corsica, my focus will be on securing another top-three finish.”

Sordo (#4 New Generation i20 WRC) and co-driver Marc Martí stood on the Spanish podium in 2015, and are setting their sights on a repeat performance. The duo receives huge support from the local crowd in their home rally, something that will undoubtedly spur them on in pursuit of a second 2016 podium result.

Sordo said: “It is always a fantastic feeling to go rallying in front of a home crowd, so Rally Spain is definitely a highlight of my season. You can really feel the energy from all the supporters who come along. It was also one of my first rallies in the WRC so it is a very special event on a personal level. Of course, the rally is different to anything else we face, with the gravel and tarmac challenge requiring a different approach. We had a tough weekend in Corsica so I’d like to come back fighting in Spain. We finished on the podium in 2015 and there’s no reason why we can’t target that again in this year’s rally. I always want to do my best but maybe just a little bit more when I’m at home.”

Paddon (#20 New Generation i20 WRC) celebrated an important WRC milestone in Spain two years ago as he took his first WRC stage win alongside co-driver John Kennard. The Kiwi crew will be hoping to extend the positive momentum from their final day in Corsica, as they look to build on their fourth place in the closely fought drivers’ classification.

Paddon said: “Rally de España is one of my favourite events on the calendar. I like that it is a mixed surface rally, which requires a different approach to the weekend. I am a big fan of the gravel stages. It’s been a long time since Finland, so I’m looking forward to getting back on the loose stuff. We want to be strong on those opening gravel stages so we can build up some momentum and stand ourselves in good stead for the tarmac surface that follows. I’m hopeful we can have a positive weekend.”

Abbring (#10 Hyundai i20 WRC) and Marshall have had a busy 2016 with several appearances for the WRC team, development of the team’s 2017 challenger, and giving Hyundai Motorsport’s R5 car its competitive debut in Corsica. Spain will be another important learning experience for the pair.

Abbring said: “I am thankful to the team for giving us the chance to compete in Rally Spain next weekend. It will be our fourth outing in a WRC car this year after Portugal, Sardinia and Finland, and another good opportunity to develop. The mixed gravel and tarmac surface will be a fascinating challenge, one that I hope will allow us to showcase our combined experience to date. We’ve been keeping our rallying skills sharp thanks to a weekend of R5 action in Corsica, so I can’t wait to get started. We hope for a trouble-free run so we can achieve our aim of a points-scoring finish.”


About Hyundai Motorsport GmbH
Established on 19 December 2012, Hyundai Motorsport GmbH is responsible for Hyundai’s global motorsport activities and primarily for its World Rally Championship programme. Based in Alzenau on the outskirts of Frankfurt in Germany, the company embarked on its debut season in the FIA World Rally Championship in 2014 with a bespoke team of skilled staff and a brand new car, the Hyundai i20 WRC. The team made a strong impression in its first year claiming podium results in Mexico and Poland, as well as a memorable 1-2 in Germany. In its second season, the team was involved in a closely fought battle for second place in the Manufacturers’ Championship, adding more podiums and stage wins to its tally. For its third season in WRC, Hyundai Motorsport has developed a brand new car, the New Generation i20 WRC, which made its rally debut with a podium finish in Rallye Monte-Carlo in January 2016. The team registered its first win with the new car in Rally Argentina, the fourth round of the season.

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About Hyundai Motor
Established in 1967, Hyundai Motor Company is committed to becoming a lifetime partner in automobiles and beyond. The company, which leads the Hyundai Motor Group, an innovative business structure capable of circulating resources from molten iron to finished cars, offers top-quality best-sellers such as Elantra, Sonata and Genesis. Hyundai Motor has eight manufacturing bases and seven design & technical centers worldwide and in 2015, sold 4.96 million vehicles globally. With more than 100,000 employees worldwide, Hyundai Motor continues to enhance its product line-up with localized models and strives to strengthen its leadership in clean technology, starting with the world’s first mass-produced hydrogen-powered vehicle, ix35 Fuel Cell.

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Nicoletta Russo
Media Hyundai Motorsport

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