Paddon determined ahead of gravel run
Kiwi eager for run of gravel rallies
However, the Dutchman and co-driver Seb Marshall will not get their hands on its 2016-specifcation i20 World Rally Car. Instead they will use the same 2015 machine which Hayden Paddon drove in the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo.
Abbring will be part of Hyundai’s second-string Mobis World Rally Team at Vodafone Rally de Portugal (19 - 22 May) and Rally Italia Sardegna (9 - 12 June). His third rally is to be confirmed.
The 27-year-old has this year been testing Hyundai’s new R5 customer car, which is due for homologation in the summer. He ran as high as second in last season’s rain-soaked Tour de Corse - Rallye de France and is unconcerned at not having a 2016 car.
“The two rallies are right after one another so I should benefit from the momentum going from one event to the next. Obviously, when you are not in the car a lot, you have to prepare everything twice as well.
“We gained some really positive WRC experience last year, so my objective for Rally de Portugal will be to get into the rhythm as soon as possible and then achieve a top 10 classification. We will be starting with the 2015 car but that won’t matter for these events.
“The gravel surface is less known to me but this makes it more exciting. I’ve got plenty of work now that I can focus on these two rallies,” said Abbring, who has tackled both rounds twice previously.
Team principal Michel Nandan said it helped to have a test driver who had the opportunity to compete.
“At the beginning of the year Kevin was very busy with R5 testing, which was the absolute priority, but now we are a bit further into the season we have more spare time to offer him some WRC events.
“We have decided on Portugal and Sardinia because they will offer him a useful learning experience on gravel. He showed his potential in Corsica last year with an eye-catching performance so we are looking forward to seeing what he can do this season,” said Nandan.