Hyundai Motorsports heads to Rally Portugal with Craig Breen still very much in their thoughts.

The team will return to a three car line up for Rally Portugal with Dani Sordo joining Thierry Neuville and Esapekka Lappi.

Looking ahead to Rally Portugal, Hyundai Motorsport WRC Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul says:

There is no denying that this is still incredibly hard for our team, and that won’t change for some time. We’ve had some time to process our emotions, but we are still feeling the loss of Craig. Our focus in Croatia was to compete in his memory, and now we want to honour him by fighting consistently at the front. Portugal will kick-off a run of gravel events, where we believe we can be strong. We know what is possible from Mexico; Thierry and Martijn secured a superb second place, and Esapekka and Janne’s were on strong form to lead the rally in only their third event with the team, showcasing their speed and potential. With the right preparation and determination I believe we can demonstrate that same performance again next weekend. There is still a great sadness among us as we head into Rally de Portugal, and there will be times where Craig’s passing will hit us hard, but I think it’s important we remember to enjoy it, for him.”

Dani Sordo commented saying:

Although the profile of the stage changes between runs, it is not so different in driving style. You just go and push! Sometimes it can be very rough on the roads in the second pass; personally, I take it a little bit carefully in those tricky places but at some point you need to dig really, really deep because the people in front are pushing like crazy – it doesn’t matter how bad the conditions are, they are going for it. Part of it is luck – you can easily pick up a puncture, but for us last year it paid off with a podium.” Rally de Portugal is always special. The roads have always been really nice, and the spectators travel from all over Portugal and Spain; they make the event really special. Last year we saw that the roads had become a little bit more rough and we were suffering a lot with the temperatures, it was really hot in the rally. The rally is known for a good evolution of the stages between the first and second pass, you have more grip but they are more rough, which was risky for the cars, tyres and even the rims last year. It would be amazing to finish on the podium again next weekend; we felt we had the pace and potential in Mexico, so we want to be back in the fight for the top-three in Portugal.”

Esapekka Lappi scored his first podium with Hyundai last time out in Croatia and speaking ahead of the event he said:

Whenever you think of Portugal, you might think it’s not that difficult or such a challenge for the car, but you always end up in a situation on the second pass where it is really, really rough. You fall into the mindset that it is a smooth rally, and it isn’t and it can catch you out. On the second run of a stage there are a lot of loose rocks and big ruts in some places. It’s definitely an event that I enjoy – it is what I would call ‘medium fast’, so not as slow as Sardinia for example. There is also some tarmac sections in this rally that are quite fast, and of course Sunday in Fafe is always a highlight with the gravel banks next to you. It’s a unique rally. It was emotional to finish on the podium in Croatia, but it was special to do it for Craig. We hope we can carry that momentum forward with us into Portugal.”

Thierry Neuville commented on Rally Portugal saying:

It is easier to prepare for a rally where you know what is coming, especially with years of experience – we’ve had dry and very hot conditions, but also faced cold and rain there too. Often you have done most of the stages both ways and many times. However even the rallies we know well always have new elements, which requires a lot of preparation and work ahead of the event. We need to know what awaits us, exactly where we are going and most of the time we need to have this before the pre-event test to make it as efficient as possible. I do expect Portugal to be one of the easier gravel rallies we will go to this year. The atmosphere first and foremost really stands out, there is always a huge amount of spectators. We have the iconic Fafe jump, some really sandy roads, hard-based stages around Amarante, and it’s great to have so many enthusiastic fans there with us

Share This