Hyundai Motorsport have their aims set on their first podium on the ‘Thousand Lakes Rally’ as the 2016 World Rally Championship season heads to Finland.
As the 2016 WRC season heads to the fast-flowing forest stages of Rally Finland, where the team has not achieved a podium at this rally. Their best result for Hyundai in Finland has been a fourth place last year.
Dani Sordo won’t be competing in the rally this year due to suffering a back problem in testing, meaning that Dutchman Kevin Abbring will be riding the #20 New Generation Hyundai i20 with his co-driver Sebastian Marshall.
New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon/John Kennard and Belgium’s Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul complete the three crews that will be fielding the Hyundai Motorsport i20s this weekend in Finland.
Despite Sordo’s injuries, the Hyundai team have had a relative trouble-free test last Friday to get used to the high-speed nature of Finland. They’re looking to build on their positive 2016 results so far which have included two wins in Argentina and Sardinia and three podiums.
Paddon said about Rally Finland “The result in Poland was really important for us and allowed us to bounce back after two tough results. I think Finland is the one we always look forward to the most. It’s like the home of rallying, the Monaco Grand Prix of the World Rally Championship.
“It’s a rally that I aspire to win one day, it’s very high on my list! We have a good car and a good package this year, so for sure we are going to try and fight right up near the front. But the Scandinavians on home turf are also very fast so we’ll have our work cut out for us. We’re feeling up for the challenge.”
Neuville is looking to build on his fourth place last time out in Poland, saying “Finland is probably one of the most challenging rallies of the season. Everybody is always a bit nervous going there. It’s a very fast event with huge grip and big jumps. You need to get everything 100% right to be fast and not make any mistakes. It’s very enjoyable once you get a good feeling and you are ‘on it’.
“It is the rally where you get the best sensations. But, it can be a difficult rally if you don’t find the best settings and get a good feeling, then it can quickly turn into the worst rally of the season! Nicolas and myself have had some positive results recently, so we want to build on that in Finland.”
Abbring added “First of all, I would like to wish Dani a speedy recovery and thank Hyundai Motorsport for this opportunity. Our debut in the New Generation i20 WRC will be at rallying’s most challenging event. We’re obviously really excited for it, but we know that it’s a tall order.
“Rally Finland is just special; the roads are really fast and the fans are passionate about rallying. It has such an amazing atmosphere! The plan will be to continue to gain as much experience as possible and get more acquainted with the New Generation i20 WRC – I cannot wait to tackle the amazing stages this week.”