Hyundai test driver Kevin Abbring says he is relishing the challenge of a surprise World Rally Car outing at the upcoming Rally Sweden [12-15 February].
The team announced yesterday that the 26-year-old Dutchman would drive a Hyundai Mobis WRT i20 World Rally Car in Sweden, after main team driver Dani Sordo withdrew injured following a training accident on his mountain bike.
Abbring was signed by Hyundai last month to help develop its 2015-spec i20 WRC, and to tackle a minimum of four WRC rounds in its second-tier team. But he and co-driver Sebastian Marshall will now make their competitive debut earlier than planned, while Sordo will miss the event in order to rest and recover in time for Rally Mexico next month.
Sweden will be Abbring’s first taste of competition in a World Rally Car, as well as his first attempt at the technically demanding winter event. Hyundai team principal Michel Nandan acknowledged Abbring’s first event would will be “an important learning curve”.
Abbring said: “It will be a special occasion as it will be my first ever event in a WRC car. Obviously, the circumstances of this opportunity are not ideal and, like everyone else, I send my best wishes to Dani. We have a lot of preparation work to do in order to get up to speed but both Seb and myself will use this event as a learning experience and do all we can to help the team.
“It will be a bit like jumping in at the deep end but I relish this sort of challenge. Whatever happens, it will be a privilege to represent Hyundai Motorsport and the Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team on the WRC stage."
Hyundai carried out a four day test in Sweden in mid-December in order to prepare the i20 World Rally Car for the team’s second participation in the event. Two additional days were carried out in the region this week with Hyundai Shell WRT drivers Thierry Neuville and Hayden Paddon sharing driving duties for half a day each and Abbring testing for one full day.