FIA

Nandan: Portugal
will be true test

Hyundai boss Michel Nandan admits his team will make no judgements on the pace of the i20 WRC until after April’s Rally de Portugal.

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The opening three rounds of the WRC in Monte-Carlo, Sweden and Mexico are specialised for different reasons, and Nandan said the traditional gravel of Portugal’s Algarve would be the first opportunity to accurately assess the car’s speed.

“You cannot really judge performance on these three first rallies because the weather conditions are so important and everything can happen. We’re more focused on getting a lot of mileage to improve our durability and then for the performance it will be easier to see where we are in Portugal,” he said.

Hyundai endured a tough return to the WRC in Monte-Carlo last month when both Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo retired in the opening leg. Nandan said this week’s Rally Sweden would be like a fresh start.

Hyundai's Juho Hanninen at Rally Sweden shakedown

“This year every rally will be like a fresh start!” he said. “Monte-Carlo wasn’t so good for us. We hoped to do at least a bit more mileage so Sweden still has the same target – to finish the rally and gain more information.

“It’s a pity the weather is not ideal so the stages may be more difficult and a bit more rough, which is one condition that has to be considered. It will be a bit more difficult for our car probably.

“We were a bit concerned about the snow and that’s why in December we went to the north of Finland to find really good snow. We had real good snow and we were happy about that - and then we come here and find these conditions!” he added.