i20 WRC - Rally de Espana gaycarboysi20 WRC - Rally de Espana gaycarboys (2)

 

  • Hyundai Motorsport will field three cars in next week’s RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada (Rally de España), penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship
  • Belgian Thierry Neuville and Spaniard Dani Sordo – for whom next weekend’s rally is a home event – will be joined once again by Kiwi Hayden Paddon 
  • The team will aim to overturn a one-point deficit in Manufacturers’ Championship, with the objective of reclaiming second place in Spain

19 October 2105 – Hyundai Motorsport will tackle the unique mixed surfaces of RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada (Rally de España) this weekend, the penultimate round of the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), with the target of recovering second place in the Manufacturers standings.

The 12th event of this season’s 13-round Championship will see the team revert back to a three-car entry with Thierry Neuville and local hero Dani Sordo representing the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team and Hayden Paddon driving for the Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team.

The team was forced to relinquish its hold on second place in the Manufacturers’ Championship despite a competitive performance at Tour de Corse. However, just one point separates the team from its target position, so the focus for Spain will be on outscoring its closest rivals.   

Rally de España has an extensive history, first run in 1957 and joining the WRC in 1991. It is unique as the only mixed surface rally of the season, featuring both tarmac and gravel stages. Friday will be primarily run on gravel but with some asphalt sections before moving onto entirely tarmac stages on Saturday and Sunday.

This year’s rally includes seven new stages, raising the total stage count to 23, and incorporating a much-revised route in the hills of Tarragona. There will also be a new Power Stage on Sunday with Duesaigües, the familiar Riudecanyes run in opposite direction.  

Drivers will need to adapt quickly to the surface changes and mechanics will need to convert the cars from gravel to tarmac specification during Friday evening service. The tarmac will be especially tough on tyres in hot conditions so tyre management could play an important part of the strategy.

Hyundai Motorsport enjoyed a three-car finish in last year’s Rally de España and will be looking to use the experience of that event, as well as its improved performances from this season, to register year-on-year improvements.
Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “Rally de España is a very specific event with its unique mix of gravel and asphalt stages. The event starts with a Super Special Stage in Barcelona, which will attract thousands of local spectators and excited rally fans. On Friday, we have a mainly gravel itinerary, interspersed with some asphalt sections on the Terra Alta stages. The evening service is special because we have just 75 minutes to change the cars to a tarmac specification ahead of the final two days of tarmac running. We find ourselves in a close fight for second in the Championship, so we know we have to be on top form over the entire weekend in our efforts to reclaim second place.”

Neuville (#7 Hyundai i20 WRC) and his co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul showed their potential in Spain last year, leading the rally briefly and securing a stage win. They will be hoping to put the frustration of Tour de Corse behind them as they chase Championship points.

Neuville said: “Rally de España is a very special event because it is the only one where we switch from gravel to tarmac, so it is quite a challenge. First of all, our team has to use evening service to make sure the car is ready by changing the suspension, gearbox and other components. From our point of view, we have to make the switch in our driving and ensure we have a good feeling, not losing any time. It is a very complex rally. The stages are very nice but we know that there are lots of new parts this year. I expect it will be a big challenge but I’m sure it will be a good weekend. We will be pushing for as many points as possible.”

Spaniard Sordo (#8 Hyundai i20 WRC) has had several competitive top-five performances in his home rally. Along with compatriot co-driver Marc Martí, he was on impressive pace in Corsica and will use the Spanish home crowd as inspiration for a strong result next weekend.

Sordo commented: “It is always a good feeling when I drive in Spain because it is my home rally – I like to drive here in front of a lot of passionate spectators. I have good memories here and will use the local support to good effect. You always get an extra boost from the home crowd! I know the stages quite well but it is still a new challenge, especially as there some new stages this year. I like driving on both gravel and tarmac stages, but I enjoy tarmac a little bit more. It will be a fun event and I am look