Hyundai Motorsport has begun its preparations for next month’s Renties Ypres Rally Belgium (19 – 22 November) with a three-day test this week.
Craig Breen was first out in an i20 World Rally Car on Monday, followed by defending world champion Ott Tänak a day later and local hero Thierry Neuville today (Wednesday).
The Alzenau-based squad is the first of the factory teams to run tests locally, with Toyota Gazoo Racing and M-Sport Ford expected to follow early next month.
Irishman Breen knows the Ypres Rally well, having competed there four times, finished on the podium twice and won it once – last season.
The conditions when he won in June last year were, however, quite different to what he found at his test close to the town earlier this week.
“The roads were very, very tricky,” he said. “We had a lot of rain early in the day and then it stopped raining and dried a little bit. One of the things about running this rally at this time of the year is that the corners will be very, very dirty.
“In some ways, it’s quite like Rally GB in that, if it’s raining there will probably be more grip out there because the rain will wash away the worst of the mud.”
The team has worked through a range of set-ups for the i20 this week, but as Neuville (pictured above on the 2019 rally) said, the real decider about the event will be the weather.
“You never know,” he said, “it can be dry at this time of the year. But if the rain comes then it will be a little bit complicated to find the right way with the car.”
Tänak is the only one of the three Hyundai drivers to be experiencing these conditions for the first time. His test was just across the border in France, but on representative roads.