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Mon 02 May 2022

Moncet: “We know we have a lot of work still to do”

Hyundai Motorsport is working flat-out to learn the gravel set-up of its i20 N Rally1 as it prepares for this month’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal, the first loose surface outing for the hybrid-era Rally1 cars.

The Alzenau-based team trailed rival teams M-Sport Ford and Toyota Gazoo Racing with the development of its all-new hybrid 2022 car and the period between rounds three and four is seen as crucial for the next phase of the season.

Hyundai Motorsport’s drivers have admitted the team is still lacking gravel data, with the focus in the latter part of last season having switched to asphalt in order to provide the best possible car for January’s debut at Rallye Monte-Carlo.

The next five rounds of the championship are on gravel, with events as varied as Safari Rally Kenya and Rally Finland.

As well as its current pre-event Portugal test programme, Hyundai completed additional testing in the south of France in the gap between Sweden and Croatia.

“Gravel is a big part of the season,” said Hyundai Motorsport deputy team director Julien Moncet.  “We have worked a lot on the reliability of the car – that’s what the destruction running was about and I think we achieved the target.

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“We know we have a lot of work still to do, events like Sardinia and Safari are tough rallies which are specific and will test the car to the limit in all areas like chassis, hybrid, and transmission. Before that, we have Portugal and we have Dani [Sordo] back for this event – again this is a different type of gravel rally. 

“We have to push in all areas for the car and the team and the crews are ready to do that.”

Neuville was the first Hyundai Motorsport driver to run a i20 N Rally1 in gravel specification at his pre-event test in Portugal on Wednesday. Conditions were damp but drying for the Belgian. Spaniard Sordo took over the car on Friday for drier conditions in Arganil on Friday.

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