Tuesday | 17 May 2022

Question marks face Sordo on hybrid debut

There’s a double-edged sword to Dani Sordo’s first FIA World Rally Championship outing of the season at Vodafone Rally de Portugal (19 - 22 May).

Yes, his absence from the first three rounds of the season has landed him a lovely place in the start order for Friday’s opening leg.

But yes, his absence from the first three rounds of the season has also left him short on seat time aboard the new hybrid Hyundai i20 N Rally1.

Starting 12th on a dry gravel rally is never a bad thing. There might be the odd rock pulled out, but the grip from a swept stage should offer the Spaniard a real chance on his WRC return.

The reason for Sordo’s absence is a 2022 Hyundai Motorsport deal which has him sharing the team’s third factory i20 N with Oliver Solberg. The younger of the two steps back to a Rally2 car this week after starting the opening three rounds in the top-tier machine.

Video: Top 5 reasons to watch Vodafone Rally de Portugal

Absence has certainly made Sordo’s heart grow fonder. He’s looking forward to being back at a rally he loves and a rally where he’s finished on the podium twice in recent seasons and five times in total.

“Portugal is always really nice, so I am very happy that this will be my first event of the season,” he said. “There are normally a lot of spectators who travel from my home of Spain and the crowds have always been fantastic.

“I’m excited to drive the car on gravel for the first time. I’m hoping to have a good rhythm with the car and adapt myself quickly to this new challenge. It won’t be easy as the other drivers have done three rallies already, so I hope the feeling for the car comes quickly.”

His Hyundai Motorsport squad notched up its best performance of the season last time out at the Croatia Rally.

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Ott Tänak claimed second with Thierry Neuville one place further back and deputy team principal Julien Moncet wants to capitalise on those results after a difficult start to the WRC’s new era for the Alzenau-based outfit.

“It was great to see our crews fighting for the overall rally victory, and although we did not get the win, it was good to secure a double podium finish,” he said.

“The entire Hyundai Motorsport team has worked tirelessly to improve the car over the past few months and it is clear that our efforts are making a real difference. We will keep pushing in our development and bring ourselves into title contention as the season progresses.”

• Full coverage from Vodafone Rally de Portugal will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park

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