Hyundai Motorsport is hoping a major six-day test could be the key to success at this week’s new-look Vodafone Rally de Portugal.
With a new rally base in the north of Portugal and gravel stages that are largely unfamiliar to the entire WRC field, Hyundai has pulled out all the stops to prepare for the unpredictable conditions that its three drivers are likely to face.
The team travelled to different locations surrounding the host town Matosinhos to test its Hyundai i20 WRC on stages with distinct profiles. Thierry Neuville, Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon all took the wheel for two days each.
Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “We tried some different roads in order to cover a wider range of conditions. We used some sandy stages but also some more compact gravel – still soft but not as dusty.
“We’re expecting the new route to be faster than in the South (where the rally has been based since 2007), while road cleaning will be a factor. This could be good for our drivers who are sixth, seventh and 11th in the championship right now.”
Paddon liked what he saw of the stages in the north during Hyundai’s test and is targeting a step up the leaderboard this weekend.
“For me, the key on this event is to be consistently fast and write good pace notes,” the New Zealander said. “If we can do that then we would like to try and be in the top five.”