PHOTO: Sordo thrills the Portugal crowd (Hyundai pic)
DANI Sordo will replace Juho Hänninen in Hyundai’s Rally Argentina line-up next month after his strong performance at Vodafone Rally de Portugal last weekend.
Sordo won the new Hyundai Shell team’s first WRC stage on Friday morning and led the event. He was fourth, and top Hyundai performer, until retiring with a broken driveshaft on Sunday morning.
The Spaniard said before the event he hoped a good drive might prompt Hyundai to consider more gravel outings for him. His next rally was due to be August’s asphalt Rallye Deutschland, which he won last year.
Portugal was the first time the Korean manufacturer had run three cars, and the team initially considered adding a third i20 for Sordo in Argentina to those already entered for lead driver Thierry Neuville and Hänninen.
Hänninen will complete the recce there and his next competitive outing will be at June’s Rally Italia Sardegna.
“I am very grateful to the team for giving me the opportunity to compete in Rally Argentina. We showed great pace and performance with the Hyundai i20 WRC in Portugal and it was a shame that we were not able to fight to the finish. I am keen to use that as a platform for Rally Argentina,” said Sordo
He has plenty of Argentine experience. He has started there seven times and finished second in 2009.
Team principal Michel Nandan said it was fair to add Sordo to the line-up following his Portugal performance.
“We had wanted to add a third car to our existing two-car entry, but it proved logistically and practically impossible given the tight timescales and the required repairs to the car from the last rally,” he said.
“We therefore discussed with Juho to move his next rally back to Sardinia, which he understood and graciously accepted.”
Hyundai will start testing an upgraded engine for its i20 World Rally Car this month and could introduce it for the mid-season Rally Finland, WRC.com reports.
After an impressive performance in Portugal, where the i20 WRC claimed three stage wins, Hyundai team boss Michel Nandan said the engine would be released only when the team was sure it was ready.
“We should start some proper bench testing in two or three weeks. This is something we want to introduce after the middle of the season,” he said.
Progress is also being made in the chassis and suspension of the i20.
“Normally with every development on the suspension and dampers we have seen a small step in performance, so I think we can make good progress until the end of this year; this is the plan,” Nandan said.