Hyundai Motorsport boss Michel Nandan says the new i20 World Rally Car is more competitive that he had expected it to be four rallies into its debut WRC season.
Nandan made the comments after Rally de Portugal, where his drivers Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville claimed three stage wins.
Earlier this year Nandan said Portugal would be the first opportunity to properly benchmark the i20’s performance, after the specialised challenges of the rounds in Monte Carlo, Sweden and Mexico.
“The verdict is that we are a bit closer than what was expected,” Nandan told wrc.com. “If we look at times when there were no problems on the car and you compare the same tyre choices, then let’s say it’s between 0.1 and 0.4 seconds per kilometre. Which is quite encouraging.
“We know we have still a lot of work to do on the development of the car, on the chassis as well on the engine, but okay, I think it’s quite promising. From what we can see, we are not really far away from VW or Citroen. And sometimes, in the more muddy conditions especially, it was possible to fight them.”
However Nandan ruled out any immediate ambition to challenge for rally wins.
“I think the progress is going quite well and, of course, we can be happy with the results so far, but no, it will not change our target to progress and improve the car. In Portugal we had some problems as well, but we are here to have problems and then to try and solve them. For now we will not focus on different things.”