Lewis Kent took his distinctive Hyundai i30 N TCR car to Portimão in Portugal’s Algarve for a three-day test in late December, describing the experience as “a real boost to my confidence” ahead of the 2019 TCR UK season.
The invitation to attend the test at the Autodromo do Algarve, organised by Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing, was extended to the brand’s customer teams. Lewis found himself on track alongside the newly-crowned 2018 WTCR champion Gabriele Tarquini and 2019 WTCR drivers Nicky Catsburg, Augusto Farfus and Norbert Michelisz.
“It was great to chat to Gabriele, Nicky, Augusto and Norbert one-to-one as just another driver,” explained Lewis. “I was a little unsure of the track to begin with as I’d never been there before, but they were all really helpful. Nicky came over at one point as I got out of the car and said he’d been running a stopwatch on me and that he thought I was impressive and definitely had a real future.”
In all, five members of the Essex and Kent Motorsport team made the journey to Portugal, with Hyundai Motorsport engineers on hand to look at data from Kent’s car and suggest improvements. In addition, the car received the latest updates direct from the engineers at the track and not remotely, as is usually the case.
Lewis added: “We made some very small changes to the base setup from the UK, We were able to go through the data with Andrea, one of the Hyundai Motorsport senior engineers, and found a few areas in which we made some significant improvements. At the start of the test, I was lapping in around 1:59 but at the end I was down to 1:53.3, which was only four or five tenths off Gabriele’s lap times.
“You just can’t turn down an opportunity like that and Portimão was a fantastic track for the test as it has so many different types of corner. It was a once in a lifetime experience to be able to test with those guys and I learnt a lot from it. It was a real boost to my confidence at the end of the year and it should help boost my performance in TCR UK in 2019.”