Hyundai will field three i20s for the first time on round four of the 2014 World Rally Championship in Portugal in April.
The team had been expected to stick to two-car lineups for its WRC comeback season, running lead driver Thierry Neuville all year and rotating between Dani Sordo, Juho Hanninen and Chris Atkinson in the second entry. It has now announced that both Sordo and Hanninen will join Neuville for Portugal, with a team statement saying Hyundai made the decision as it was “eager to accelerate its learning curve.”
The i20 has shown promising pace so far, with Sordo holding third in Monte Carlo before a technical problem intervened, and Neuville getting into the top six for a spell in Sweden. But accidents have limited its mileage. Neuville crashed on both the opening rounds, and Hanninen also went off when well-placed in Sweden.
Team boss Michel Nandan said the expansion for Portugal was designed to maximize Hyundai’s mileage.
“Having three cars at Rally de Portugal will be very positive for us and it will allow us to continue our data collection and to accumulate more mileage in our debut WRC season,” he said.
Atkinson will make his competitive debut for Hyundai on the next round in Mexico, for which the team is sticking to two cars.
Hyundai will also contest the non-championship Fafe Rallysprint curtain-raiser the week before the Rally of Portugal on March 29.
Originally on Autosport.com