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Italy - 21-22 Jun 13

Posted: April 13, 2016 10:22 AM - 2643 Hits

Round 7 - 2013 World Rally Championship

Fuchs Flies For DMACK In Sardinian Success

Posted: April 13, 2016 10:22 AM

DMACK driver Nicolas Fuchs took a huge step forward in his quest to become WRC Production Cup champion after sealing another dominant victory, his fifth in a row, on this weekend's Rally Italia Sardegna.

Equipped with DMACK's DMG+2 gravel tyre, Peruvian pilot Fuchs was untouchable as he cruised to production victory on this seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The result means he's virtually unrivalled at the top of the Production Cup table and he's also consolidated his second place position in the WRC2 series.

As an event, Rally Italia Sardegna always provides a tough test for cars and tyres. Its rocky stages around Olbia in the island's north-eastern corner are a mix of both abrasive and soft surfaces ? demanding high levels of durability and puncture resistance from tyres.

This year's event was even harder than last with organisers cramming a full rally into two days and a date change meaning the event moved to the heart of the Sardinian summer. High temperatures and hanging dust added to the challenge for crews.

DMACK drivers used the well-proven S3 compound which helped deliver the performance to push hard, but also provided the durability to enable crews to complete the 304km of timed special stages. And durability this year was pretty important.

The maximum permitted quantity of tyres for WRC2 crews was 24 ? a reduction of five from last year's event. The day one stages around Sassari were particularly tough with demanding road surfaces pushing tyre performance to the limit.

Sardinia has been kind to both Fuchs and DMACK in the past with Fuchs picking up his first-ever PWRC win in 2012.

Dick Cormack, DMACK motorsport director, said:
"Sardinia is renowned for being a unique and demanding event. In terms of tyre wear, it has a couple of the most abrasive stages we've seen in the entire championship and the issue of tyre damage and punctures from the many sharp rocks is always a challenge. But we've mastered these conditions for two years now and that's proof of our ongoing development. Nicolas Fuchs has had a remarkable run over the last five events and we congratulate him on his latest win."

WRC2 - ROBERT KUBICA GETTING INTO WINNING HABIT

Posted: April 13, 2016 10:21 AM

Robert Kubica continues to impress in his debut season in the World Rally Championship. In his Citro?n DS3 RRC, the Pole claimed his second consecutive win in WRC2 at Rally Italia Sardegna.

Sixth in Portugal and then winner at the Acropolis Rally, Robert Kubica's rivals were eager to fight back at Rally Italia Sardegna. Facing stiffer competition than in Greece, the Pole was determined to keep up his rich vein of form, despite still only having limited experience in the category.

On Friday morning, the DS3 RRC driver flew out of the blocks, not only winning the first stage but completing it at one second quicker per kilometre than all his rivals! After another stage win on SS2, he had a little setback when he damaged the rear of his car after a minor impact. He nonetheless made it to the remote service in Sassari with a 50-second lead over his nearest challenger.

Building on the experience acquired on the first loop, Robert and his co-driver Maciek Baran turned the screw in the afternoon. Simply unbeatable, they extended their lead to close to two minutes! The day concluded with two runs on the Gallura stage. Particularly hindered by the fading light and the dust kicked up by cars that were ahead of him on the road, Robert had to slow down several times and could only manage the seventh fastest time. On the second run, held after nightfall, everything went better since he improved his time by a minute in spite of a radio problem!

In comparison to the first leg, day two was a lot easier to manage. With a much better starting position, the Pole no longer had to contend with the hanging dust. Without taking any unnecessary risks, he produced the perfect display, winning eight out of eight stages!

At the finish, he won by 4m 17s from Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, current leader of the WRC2 championship. "Obviously, I'm pleased to win again at an event that is completely different to Greece. Every day I spend in the DS3 RRC gives me a bit more experience. I feel good about my driving, but also about my understanding of the road surface and the reactions of the car. It wasn't easy all the time, as we did have a few problems that are specific to gravel rallies, such as the dust. It was a good learning experience to drive in conditions like these, but I didn't enjoy it at all because of the danger involved."

Robert Kubica now lies fourth overall in the WRC2 championship standings, with 58 points from three rallies. With an average of over 18 points at each round in which he has competed, the Pole may be able to challenge for the title. Robert played down his chances: "My main goal is still to learn about driving at this level. Obviously, I won't complain if I achieve good results! But above all, I take satisfaction from the personal progress I'm making."

Robert Kubica and Maciek Baran' season continues at the legendary Rally Finland, the next round of the WRC: "It's another huge challenge for me. I'm really looking forward to it, because it is one of the most famous, renowned rallies. You need a lot of experience to race at this level, but I think that's even more the case in the country of a thousand lakes.

High five - triumph for Volkswagen and Ogier at Rally Italy

Posted: April 13, 2016 10:17 AM

At the halfway point of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Volkswagen dominates the proceedings with its fifth win in seven rallies. The Volkswagen team has also comfortably extended its lead in this, the most prestigious motorsport world championship after Formula 1. Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) won the rally in Sardinia in their Polo R WRC with a lead of 1m 16.8s over their closest competitor, Thierry Neuville (Ford). The two Frenchmen have therefore extended their lead in the driver/co-driver rankings to 64 points. Their Volkswagen team colleagues Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) demonstrated an impressive final spurt to likewise make it onto the podium, finishing in third place, in spite of having dropped back to twelfth place due to a flat tyre during the first stage. This puts the two Finns in second place in the driver/co-driver world championship rankings. They also played a major part in enabling Volkswagen's 315 hp four-wheel drives to further extend the car make's lead in the Manufacturers' Championship.

Andreas Mikkelsen, who celebrated his 24th birthday on the Saturday of the rally in Sardinia, again missed out on a good result together with his co-driver Mikko Markkula (N/FIN) ? on the third from last stage of the rally, they were instructed by the team to take all available risks in order to secure fourth place overall, but a slip-up then cost them this ranking. Mikkelsen/Markkula veered off the track on a slow corner and caused only light damage to the suspension ? but then had to retire from the rally early.

Volkswagen put on a strong team performance in the seventh of 13 events in the WRC season, in front of Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, the member of the Board of Management for the Volkswagen brand who is responsible for development. "It was a great success for the whole of the team and being there to see it was a fantastic experience," said Dr Hackenberg. "This was actually my last rally as the head of development at Volkswagen, but I will no doubt visit a few more rallies some time. I have put a lot of heart and soul into this project and that doesn't simply evaporate when you move to pastures new."

The driver factor: outstanding performances from Ogier and Latvala

13 fastest times in 16 special stages, seven of which were scored by Sebastien Ogier and six by Jari-Matti Latvala ? once again, Volkswagen was able to put its faith in strong drivers in Rally Italy. One of them was in the lead right from the start, while the other one compellingly continued to gain ground ? Ogier and Latvala acclimatised perfectly to the tough conditions in Sardinia. Consistency and speed were also the order of the day, with the overall leader Ogier dominating the front position in the WRC pack from the very first stage on Friday and refusing to forfeit it all the way to the finishing line on Saturday. The key to the 29-year-old Frenchman's fourth win of the season was his clever driving style that went easy on his tyres, which placed him among the top three drivers no less than 14 times in the 16 special stages. His team colleague Jari-Matti Latvala was absolutely on a par with him, himself achieving 14 recorded times that were among the top three. Incidentally, even with his damaged tyre, which cost him 1m 56.4s, Latvala was still only 1m 48.0s behind Ogier after driving 304.50 timed kilometres.

Unfailing teamwork: mechanics a huge support to Ogier, Latvala and Mikkelsen

With just two days of rallying in Sardinia, making this the most compact WRC event of the year, the whole team needed to put in a good performance. The Volkswagen team provided the three pairs of drivers with major support during the rally's six services, with their meticulous and reliable work meaning that Ogier, Latvala und Mikkelsen were working with the perfect materials at all times. On the Saturday, Sebastien Ogier's mechanics sent the Polo R WRC out on the final four special stages with a subframe that had been replaced just to be on the safe side together with power steering. This involved some incredible work, with two mechanics replacing the component in just eight minutes.

Intense heat: challenging conditions in Sardinia

Rally Italy once again made huge demands of the drivers, with the extreme temperatures on the one hand and very narrow tracks lined with natural rocks on the other. A combination of gravel and a loose layer of sand on top made the first time of driving the eight special stages, each of which was driven twice, a highly slippery affair. These conditions meant the drivers had to use all their concentration and skills to use their tyres wisely. Even the slightest of errors could have brought things to an end for a driver at any time or could have cost them some precious time.

The Power Stage advantage: bonus points for Volkswagen drivers

For the fifth time out of six occasions so far, 'Mr Power Stage' Sebastien Ogier and Volkswagen achieved the fastest time in the Power Stage, during which bonus points are awarded to the top three drivers. His team colleague Jari-Matti Latvala likewise picked up some bonus points by finishing third in the 22.25-kilometre stage. This means a unique run of success for Volkswagen continues, with the brand having achieved all of the fastest times in the Power Stages contested in 2013.

Drivers' and Manufacturers' Championships: Ogier, Ingrassia and Volkswagen in the lead

Volkswagen picked up a maximum amount of points in Sardinia, while the current overall leader Sebastien Ogier extended his lead in the drivers' rankings, with his co-driver Julien Ingrassia doing the same in the corresponding co-driver rankings. The pair now have a lead of 64 points over their team colleagues Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila, who are ranked second. Volkswagen is also at the top of the Manufacturers' Championship thanks to its two strong duos and was able to extend its lead over the defending champions Citro?n to 46 points as a result of Rally Italy.

Statements, day 2, Rally Italy

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7
"Third place is a fantastic result overall ? but we could have done better. The flat tyre in the first stage was nobody's fault but our own ? we should have been more observant during the recce and should have had that spot of the track in our pace notes. Losing two minutes as a result was disappointing at first. But on the other hand, it also gave us the opportunity to attack without any pressure and to challenge our competitors. Our speed was very good throughout the rally, and that's what allowed us to grapple our way back up from twelfth to third place. The team played a big part in that too, so thanks for that, guys. I really felt at home in the Polo R WRC and will tackle my home rally in Finland filled with confidence."

Sebastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8
"It feels fantastic to be back on top of the podium again! I was really beginning to miss that feeling after the last two rallies. I'm simply delighted ? the team did a fantastic job and the Polo ran like a dream all weekend. We now have a very comfortable lead in the Drivers' Championship rankings. The rally was incredibly demanding physically, due to the high temperatures, and it sometimes got as hot as 45 degrees in the cockpit. On the second day in particular, you came close to your limits and you easily lost three to four litres of fluid. So I'd like to say a big 'thank you' to our team members who look after us and to the physiotherapy team, who did a great job of taking care of us. The heat really takes it out on the tyres and the car too. My tyre-friendly driving style was no doubt one of the reasons for my victory. I was especially pleased to once again win the Power Stage. I had a tough fight on my hands there with Thierry Neuville, who was incredibly fast during that stage, as he was throughout the rally."

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
"I'm extremely disappointed, of course, because we got off to a very good start in Rally Italy and I think we put in a good performance. That is, until our slip-up today. We wanted to go in for the kill and clinch fourth place. In the afternoon session, I had already made good eight seconds on Dani Sordo in the first of the four remaining stages. I only needed around twelve more seconds to pass him, so we went for broke in the following stage too. But then I braked too late on a slow corner and we slid and hit a tree stump, which tore off our tie rod. So that was the end of that. I had hoped for a slightly different outcome on my birthday. But I think we were again able to gain a lot of important experience during this rally."

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
"What more could we ask for? Rally Italy was a resounding success for Volkswagen and marks another milestone in our first season in the World Rally Championship. If somebody had said ahead of the season that we would be leading in all three championship categories and that we would win five out of the seven events in the first half of the season, we most certainly wouldn't have believed them. Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala delivered nothing but top performances here in Italy. The same goes for Andreas Mikkelsen too, even though he had to retire just before the end of the rally. He was endeavouring to turn our instructions into deeds by going all out to take fourth place, and had a bit of bad luck in the process. But that certainly doesn't remotely detract from his achievements as far as the team is concerned. I am proud of all three drivers. They have really earned their summer break. All the same, we are already looking forward to the next rally in Finland at the end of July."

And then there was ...
... the dual role of 'FX'. Volkswagen's Technical Project Manager for the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Francois-Xavier Demaison ? or 'FX' for short ?, not only has overall technical responsibility for all three of the Polo R WRC vehicles; he is also acting as the vehicle engineer for Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila in Italy. Fabrice van Ertvelde, who has worked with the Finnish pair in the rallies already gone and who will also be working with them during the six WRC rallies still to come, had a very good reason not to be there in Italy: he and his girlfriend are expecting the birth of their child this weekend. Van Ertvelde is a veritable old hand at Volkswagen: he was the engineer for Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz during Volkswagen's very first win in the Dakar Rally back in 2009.

BEST EVER RESULT FOR NEUVILLE AND QATAR

Posted: April 13, 2016 10:14 AM

Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul put in a sensational performance behind the wheel of their Qatar World Rally Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC today to secure second place at the 2013 Rally Italia Sardegna - theirs and the team's best ever result in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).

The result marks Neuville's third podium of the year - a combination of control and out-right pace clearly paying dividends for the young Belgian. Starting cautiously, the 25-year-old was in control from start to finish with his impressive speed indicating that the top-step of the podium will be well within reach as the series moves to his more favoured events in the latter half of the season.

With two stage wins on the first day of competition, the Belgian refused to give in to the pressure of the final day. Despite lacking splits through the morning loop, Neuville looked more than comfortable behind the wheel.

With the exception of SS12 ? on which he out-braked himself into a junction ? Neuville posted a top-three time on all of today's speed tests. To top-off what has been a near-perfect weekend the Belgian also flew to second place in the Power Stage (SS15) and an additional two points which sees him propelled into third place in the drivers' championship.

Making an impact with an outstanding points-scoring finish on his world rally car debut, fellow Qatar World Rally Team driver Elfyn Evans claimed an impressive sixth place ? one of the highest placed finishes for a driver on their WRC debut.

A difficult event for the young Welshman, this was also his first venture to the Italian event as well as his first outing with co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini. Yet ever rising to the challenge and learning with each new stage, Evans maintained his composure for a thoroughly deserved result.
Keeping his head where the more experienced faltered, the 24-year-old's progress was clear to see. Gaining experience and upping his pace with each competitive kilometre, Evans put in a near faultless performance. Proving he can up the pace when necessary, he clinched his sixth place by just 0.9 seconds and has certainly proved his potential as a real star of the future.

Elsewhere in the one remaining Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team Fiesta RS WRC, Mads Ostberg and Jonas Andersson recovered some good points following yesterday's final-stage roll. Despite losing the intercom and thus having no pacenotes for 90 per cent of SS10 (Terranova 1) followed by a slow puncture and spin on the following two stages (SS11 and SS12), the Scandinavians recovered an impressive six places to finish a points-scoring eighth overall.

Ostberg's result also saw M-Sport continue its record breaking streak of points finishes as a manufacturer entrant. Thanks to some exceptional, late-night work from the mechanics to ensure Ostberg's restart, M-Sport's manufacturer teams have scored points on every single WRC event since the 2002 Rallye Monte Carlo ? that's 165 and counting.

Thierry Neuville (2nd) said:
"This was a great event for us. We have shown some good pace and been consistent all weekend with no big mistakes ? a clean run and a very good result for Nicolas [Gilsoul, co-driver] and me.

"It was no problem keeping Jari-Matti [Latvala] behind us this afternoon as, to be honest, there was a pretty big gap. We followed his times and I think we put some pressure on some of the other drivers too so it really couldn't have been better.

"We have had two thirds and a second already this season, so who knows, maybe the win will come in Germany! I have a lot more experience on Tarmac and have always been a lot quicker there so I think if we have a good test and the conditions are OK, then we can definitely have a good run there.

"The key to our performance this weekend was the same as the last two rallies. We had a different strategy which was just to make sure that we finished all of the stages to build up our confidence. We had the same plan this afternoon but when we saw that we could match the pace S?bastien [Ogier] and Jari-Matti ? without taking any risks ? we decided to continue with the same rhythm which brought us this good result."

Elfyn Evans (6th) said:
"It's been a great weekend. It didn't start off so easy for us ? we knew it was always going to be difficult. But we got better and better as the weekend went on. When others hit problems, we managed to stay on the road and the result came in the end.

"I just want to thank everyone involved for the opportunity ? it's been an absolutely fantastic experience and we both [Giovanni Bernacchini, co-driver, and I] really enjoyed it.

"I certainly didn't expect to finish in the top-six before the event ? I wasn't sure that I would make it to the finish let alone finish in sixth so it is very pleasing to be here. I've learnt masses. It's fantastic preparation for Finland with the [Ford Fiesta] R5 and I've learnt so much about how to get the most out of the car, the event, and working with a different co-driver. Giovanni has been excellent so big thanks to him.

"Obviously this result means a great deal. To finish sixth on my debut is massive! I'm not sure what it means for the future, but it's definitely improved my skills as a driver and provided me with more knowledge and experience than I could have ever hoped for. It's brilliant? and I can't stop smiling!"

Mads Ostberg (8th) said:
"Towards the end of the Power Stage ? about two kilometres before the end - there was a bull with huge horns in the middle of the road. I had to brake to try to avoid it, but when I did that it just moved against me so I had to go even further off the road to miss it. It was really big so I didn't want to hit it because that would have been a hard impact for sure!

"Apart from that, this afternoon has been OK. We had a small issue with the rear suspension so for the last two or three stages it was quite difficult. But other than that, we didn't have so many dramas.

"We have had some good stages in this rally so we just have to keep that in our mind and make sure we bring the confidence and the self-belief with us to Finland."

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
"What a fantastic result for both Thierry [Neuville] and Elfyn [Evans] ? I think they've both proved a lot this weekend!

"Thierry's second place shows just how confident he has become behind the wheel of the Fiesta [RS WRC] and I'm sure there's more to come from him when we move into the second half of the season. He's proven he has the consistency, and I think this weekend he took another step forward by proving that he also has the speed to challenge for the top positions. He thoroughly deserves to be third in the drivers' championship.

"Elfyn's performance too was outstanding. This was always going to be a difficult event for him ? his first time in the WRC car, his first time at Rally Italia and his first time with Giovanni [Bernacchini, co-driver] - but he mastered the challenge brilliantly. He was constantly improving and I think this experience will make him all the more competitive when he returns to WRC 2 in Finland. We certainly made the right decision by putting him in the car.

"Finally, I need to praise the M-Sport mechanics who did an absolutely fantastic job on Mads' [Ostberg] car last night. They worked well into the night to make the repairs and, thanks to them, M-Sport can continue their unbroken record for the highest number of consecutive points scores in the WRC. It was a brilliant effort by the entire team."

Results

Posted: April 13, 2016 10:11 AM

Fisher and Campedelli are out to make their mark and score points!

Posted: June 16, 2013 9:44 AM

Alastair Fisher and Simone Campedelli matched the pace of the quickest in Portugal, but were unable to translate their level of performance into important points. The Saintéloc Racing drivers are back for the second round of the Citroën Top Driver in the Sardinian rally. This time the Northen Irishman and the Italian are determined to run at the front!

Alastair Fisher and Gordon Noble were leading the Citroën Top Driver classification in Rally Portugal, but their victory hopes were dashed when crossing a ford that led to mechanical problems. Nonetheless, they managed to finish fourth. “Portugal was obviously frustrating with the problem in the water crossing, but we were extremely pleased with our pace as it was our first event in the car against seasoned DS3 competitors and we managed to lead on day 1 and set fastest times”, said Alastair.

Before going to Sardinia, the driver from Ulster is hoping to convert his pace into results and points. In his opinion the opening kilometers will play a crucial role in determining the outcome. “Sardinia will be a tough rally, with very challenging roads, as the event is only two days it will be important to get off to a good start on the first 30km stage and maintain a consistent fast pace, we need to come home with some good points for us and the team.”

While Fisher is still getting to grips with his car he’s convinced he can win. “I was very impressed wit the DS3s capabilities on the gravel in Portugal, now that I have some more experience of the car this will help my speed on the stages, but as always everyone will be more prepared for round 2.”

As in Portugal where he too hit mechanical problems, Simone Campedelli will be at the wheel of the second DS3 R3 tuned by Saintéloc Racing. He managed to bring the car home in sixth place. “We weren’t very lucky in Portugal,” said Simone. “That hasn’t hurt our motivation and we’re going to work with the team to get back on the right track. Although the level in the Citroën Top Driver is very high, we’ve got what it takes to score a good result.”

With Danilo Fappani as co-driver Campedelli will have the advantage of racing on home turf as he is taking part in an event in which he’s already raced. “I know this rally which I competed in in the Italian Rally and World Championships. With my experience I think that we can take advantage of this. In addition, I now know the car very well. I know it better on tarmac and I’m sure I can be quick on gravel too. I’m ready to go out there and fight and I’m hoping to win in front of my home crowd!”

Rally Italia Sardegna will kick off on Thursday with the qualifying stage Monte Pinu (3,86 km). Like in previous years the crews will set off from Olbia on Friday morning. They will have to do four stages twice on the first day for a loop of 147 km. On Saturday, the second and last day’s racing consists of two loops of four stages for a total of 157 km.

CITROEN TOP DRIVER

Posted: June 16, 2013 9:42 AM

Rally Italia-Sardegna, the second round of the Citroën Top Driver series, also marks the season’s halfway stage in the World Championship. And with just a few days to go before a well-deserved summer break, there may well be a holiday feel to the event. However, the ten Top Driver crews competing in the rally in their DS3 R3s will certainly not be looking to take it easy just yet. Everyone will be pushing and Bryan Bouffier, Sébastien Chardonnet and Quentin Gilbert will be using every ounce of their talent to hold onto the top positions in the standings of the Citroën formula.

Contested in the north east of Sardinia and based in Olbia, the Italian event has been brought forward to the start of the summer, having been held in October in 2012. Featuring a total of 305 kilometres of timed sections in sixteen special stages, the format for this year’s event is very different. The entire rally is packed into two long days’ racing on the Friday and Saturday, with no stage longer than 32 kilometres. The Citroën Top Driver’s leading crews will therefore need to demonstrate considerable strength and concentration on the event’s tricky, winding roads, which can also be rock-strewn and rutted in places, meaning punctures can be easily picked up.

Since its opening round at Rally de Portugal, this international challenge set up by Citroën Racing has grown in stature since it now boasts ten crews competing in DS3 R3s and four teams contesting the title. The truly international series features teams from the former corners of Europe. For the time being, the French drivers lead the way as they currently hold the top three positions in the standings. Championship leader Bryan Bouffier will start as the favourite in Italy. He made the most of his extensive experience to win in style on his first appearance in the Algarve.

“I have competed in Rally Italia Sardegna only once before, in 2007, and it was in a Citroën C2 R2 Max,” recalled the man from the Drôme. “It was a great rally, with narrow, winding roads which can sometimes break up. It was also very hot and we’ll probably get the same weather this year. Obviously, my aim is to finish on the podium because I need to record a good result if I’m to have a chance of competing in Finland. But I saw just how high the standard was in Portugal, so I know it won’t be easy.”

Bryan Bouffier is right to worry, given the eagerness of the two young French drivers on his shoulder in the standings. Sébastien Chardonnet (current leader of the WRC3 category following his win at Rallye Monte Carlo) and Quentin Gilbert (winner of the 2012 France Citroën Racing Trophy) begin the rally with the same desire to win.

For Sébastien, the goal is clear: “We are going to Sardinia with the same objective, to score good points. Our performance level on the gravel in Portugal was reassuring but we also saw just how stiff the competition was. We took part in Rally Adriatico a few weeks ago, and we ended up winning the two-wheel driver category in the DS3 R3. The race also gave us with a chance to work on some of the areas where we came up a little short in order to win in the Algarve. Although we’ve never competed in the Rally Italia Sardegna before, we are just going to give our very best to try and win the race.”

“We really can’t wait to start racing,” commented the man from the Vosges region, Quentin Gilbert. “Although I haven’t competed here before, I know that I’m going to enjoy it because driving on the same roads as the World Rally Championship is fabulous and very rewarding. Our goal is the same as ever: make it to the end and, if possible, finish on the top step of the podium whilst avoiding the mistakes made in Portugal. We’ll have to be fast, consistent and keep out of trouble.”

The three leaders are therefore all highly motivated, but are equally aware of the danger posed by some of the other crews, starting with Alastair Fisher and Keith Cronin. Whilst one was hampered by a technical problem and the other went off, the pace of the two drivers from the British Isles could clearly be seen in Portugal, as they claimed half of the stage wins at the rally between them. Unfortunate at the first event, Christian Riedemann, Francesco Parli, Simone Campedelli and Federico Della Casa will all be determined to improve here and will be starting at a frenetic pace. Finally, another promising new driver is set to throw his hat into the ring. Frenchman Stéphane Consani enters the Citroën Top Driver series with lofty ambitions.

In the teams’ standings, Top Teams leads the way, followed by Delta Rally Team and Sainteloc Racing. Currently lying fourth, Charles Hurst Citroën Belfast’s strong line-up will give it a good chance of moving up the standings. Two new teams will also be making their first outing: BP Racing and Gema Racing Team. As each will only be entering one driver at this event, they will not however be able to score points towards the teams’ championship.

The rally gets underway on Thursday, 20 June with the shakedown, staged towards the end of the morning. The ten Citroën Top Driver crews will then take part in a media training session before heading for Sassari for the ceremonial start, which is due to begin at 7pm.

Citroen Rally Italia sardegna - Preview

Posted: June 16, 2013 9:40 AM

Rally Italia Sardenga, round seven of the World Championship, marks the half-way stage of the season. Ahead of the short summer break, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team crews will be looking to produce strong performances. Winners here last year, Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen return to an event where they have always done well. Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio will be equally determined to confirm the good form they have enjoyed on ‘hard’ gravel rallies.

Three weeks after the Acropolis Rally, the WRC continues at a round with similar characteristics: Mediterranean climate, stages on gravel roads that are fairly demanding on cars and tyres, and a compact course featuring ‘only’ 300 kilometres of special stages. Although the rally only lasts two days (Friday and Saturday), the organisers have nonetheless made the most of the time available, since the crews will be racing for at least 28 of the 37 hours separating the start from the finish! Mainly made up of tests of between 15 and 20 kilometres in length, the course is being held on stages that are well known to the drivers. The major innovation for this year is the Gallura stage, which will be held under cover of darkness on Saturday night.

Rally Sardegna has often been a happy hunting ground for Mikko Hirvonen. Last year, the Finn claimed his first WRC win in the Citroën DS3 WRC. Before that, he had been runner-up here five times in a row, starting in 2006. “Winning in Sardinia was one of the highlights of my 2012 season,” recalled Mikko. “After a series of podium finishes, I had pushed hard from the word go. My only goal was to win the rally! We have to start from scratch again this year. I think there’ll be a real fight at the front, starting in qualifying, especially as the starting positions that we choose will be used for half of the rally. After a frustrating weekend in Greece, I hope that the pieces of the jigsaw come together to enable us to secure a good result before the summer break.”

Although he missed the event in 2012, Dani Sordo has nonetheless finished as runner-up in Sardinia on two occasions. The Spaniard returns to the event feeling particularly motivated: “We saw in Portugal and then in Greece that I was pretty comfortable on road surfaces offering a good level of grip. That should also be the case in Sardinia! Finishing second at the Acropolis Rally did me a lot of good; it helped me to regain confidence after a bit of a rough patch. Like Mikko, I’m aiming for a very good result this weekend.”

The third works Citroën DS3 WRC, competing for the Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team, will be driven by Khalid Al-Qassimi and Scott Martin. The United Arab Emirates driver has finished all three of the rallies he has entered this year, and is now determined to rack up his first points of the season this time around.

Clear winners in WRC2 at the Acropolis Rally, Robert Kubica and Maciej Baran continue their programme in the Citroën DS3 RRC. Ten crews from the Citroën Top Driver series will also line up for Rally Italia Sardegna.

THREE QUESTIONS FOR… DANI SORDO

Were you pleased to have finished as runner-up at the Acropolis Rally?
“Yes, I really needed this kind of result. After a bit of a crazy first stage, I found myself in a good position. Insofar as Mikko had ran into problems, the team asked me to control my pace. I raced for the rest of the rally with this in mind and we were pleased to get back onto the podium and pick up good points for both championships! It was important, first and foremost, to secure this second place, before then aiming higher.”

Are you therefore aiming to win in Sardinia?
“On paper, it’s my kind of rally. I like it when the car, the tyres and the surface combine to give you a good level of grip. We have done quite a lot of work on this with the team. After Portugal and Greece, Sardinia provides us with a chance to confirm the progress we have made. But before thinking about winning, you need to produce the perfect performance and get through several stages: feel confident with the car, set a good time in qualifying to have the best possible starting position, put together a series of stages without any mistakes, etc.”

Among the current crop of WRC drivers, you are the most popular on the various social media. Do you know where this popularity stems from?
“I try to share little bits of my life with my fans, at rallies and elsewhere. You’re right, there are a lot of people who follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes, I am quite surprised by how much interest can be generated by a simple photo! In order for my contributions to remain spontaneous, I express myself mainly in my native language and that is very much appreciated by the Spanish-speaking community throughout the world.”

Sardinian Summer Offers Tough Tyre Test For DMACK

Posted: June 16, 2013 9:39 AM

DMACK is hoping to continue its perfect run of Production Cup victories when the FIA World Rally Championship returns to the Mediterranean next week for Rally Italia Sardegna.

DMACK drivers continue to dominate the production section of the WRC2 support championship with Peruvian Nicolas Fuchs claiming victory on the last four events. The company has locked out the top-three Production Cup places with Ricardo Trivino and Juan Carlos Alonso also using DMACK’s gravel tyres in Sardinia next week.

The competitive action will again run in the island’s north-east Costa Smeralda region around its base in Olbia, using the typically fast, narrow roads in the area. And it’s these gravel roads and sandy tracks which make the event pretty demanding for tyre manufacturers.

Some of the first day’s stages feature large sections of very abrasive bedrock and gravel which punish tyres and test durability to the limit. But there’s also large sections of sandy tracks which quickly rut to expose sharp, puncture-inducing rocks on the second pass.

In addition to strength, durability and puncture resistance, DMACK’s runners also demand high levels of performance. The Sardinian roads are fast but quite narrow and a high degree of precision is needed to negotiate the rocks, water splashes and jumps which are familiar sights along the route.

Last year’s event was extremely tough on tyres and organisers have made some changes to this year’s edition which will deliver even more of a challenge. Moving from October to June, crews and tyres will be faced with sweltering summer temperatures. But the event has also been cut to two days with an action-packed itinerary on the cards.

To cope, DMACK has nominated its S3 compound of the DMG+2 gravel tyre and WRC2 drivers can use a maximum of 24 tyres across the 304km of action – a reduction of five tyres from 2012.

Last year’s event was a Sardinian success for DMACK with Fuchs scoring his first ever PWRC victory, a DMACK one-two in Group N and Martin Prokop sealing a top-ten with his Ford Fiesta RS WRC finishing eighth overall.

Event Details

The town of Sassari hosts the ceremonial start on Thursday evening before 16 hours of competition on Friday kicks off with the 31km Monte Lerno test. Famed for the spectacular Micky’s Jump, the stage is also the longest of the rally. Then it’s another two stages, a remote service in Sassari and a repeat of the three-stage loop. Friday’s action is finished with two runs over the Gallura stage to the north of Olbia – the second of which will be in darkness.

Saturday sees two passes over a four-stage loop to the south, punctuated by a visit to the service park, before the ceremonial finish in Olbia. In total the event offers 16 special stages and 304km of action.

Dick Cormack, DMACK motorsport director, said:
“Last year’s event was great for DMACK but the move to June and the reduction in tyre allocation means this year’s event will be even tougher. Sardinia offers a really unique mix of abrasive roads and soft stages – both creating different challenges for our tyres. But we’re confident in our product which is proving popular as the tyre of choice for the Production Cup front-runners.”

Motivated from head to toe - Volkswagen ahead of the Rally Italy

Posted: June 16, 2013 9:38 AM

Full throttle into the second half of the season: when Volkswagen takes on the Rally Italy in Sardinia from 20th to 22nd June, it will be facing the most compact round of the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship. The three Volkswagen teams of Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula (N/FIN) will line up in the Polo R WRC at the seventh race of the season.

Each of the works pairs has been preparing for the Rally Italy with a number of tests on Sardinia’s gravel roads in the 315-hp four wheel-drive car from Wolfsburg. The goal for the Volkswagen drivers is crystal clear: Jari-Matti Latvala, who recently claimed his first win for Volkswagen in Greece, championship leader Sébastien Ogier, who already has four victories under his belt this season, and Andreas Mikkelsen, who won three of the 14 special stages to finish fourth overall at the latest round of the WRC, have their sights set firmly on victory.

“The Rally Greece showed once and for all that we not only have two drivers capable of winning, in Jari-Matti Latvala and Sébastien Ogier, but also have a future winner in our ranks, in the form of Andreas Mikkelsen. All three have produced outstanding performances recently. We want to take this momentum into Sardinia,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “Volkswagen is leading every classification in the overall WRC standings, and two of our drivers currently occupy the top two places in the Drivers’ Championship. That is enough motivation for our drivers, engineers and mechanics to do their very best again in Sardinia. We are looking forward to competing on a par with our opponents again, and to some exciting battles for wins, positions and points.”

Compact but demanding: rallying at its best in the space of just two days

The Rally Italy in Sardinia made its first appearance in the World Rally Championship nine years ago. Since then, towns like Alà dei Sardi, Buddosò, Pattada and the region around Sassari have established themselves as true WRC icons. In 2013, the drivers and teams will face a particularly compact schedule: the special stages will be held on just two days – Friday and Saturday. Each day will feature four special stages, all of which will be run twice. How to sum up the character of the Rally Italy, which takes place between the Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast) and the island’s harsh interior? High-speed passages, winding sections, spectacular water crossings and a number of formidable jumps. One of the best-known spectator points on the Rally Italy is “Micky’s Jump” on the “Monte Lerno” special stage. About eight kilometres into the stage, the World Rally Cars arrive at this well-known point, at which they are faced with a sudden dip during a quick left-hander. The special stage ends with a difficult descent, during which the brakes are put to the test. Another highlight of the Rally Italy is the most southerly special stage, on which the landscape is as spectacular as the driving. Cork trees line the ever-changing gravel roads on the “Coiluna–Loelle” special stage, which features a bit of everything the Mediterranean island has to offer rally drivers – from narrow, winding streets to wide, flowing roads. This special stage also boasts a breath-taking jump. New to the itinerary is a night stage in Gallura on Friday evening, which promises to provide thrilling rally action in the dark.

Strategy with the overall standings in mind: sights set on victory, but not at all costs

As the season reaches its halfway point – six rounds of the WRC down, a further six to go after Italy – the three Volkswagen crews line up with clear goals. “We should be able to challenge for victory again, but not at all costs. It is vital to come away with as many points as possible, and to tighten our grip on the top spots in the overall standings,” says Jost Capito. The rally in Sardinia may not be as extreme as the last round in Greece, but the tricky gravel roads must be attacked with due care in order to avoid putting too much strain on the car and tyres. “Here too, the key is to find the right balance between the desire to attack and a cautious pace to suit the situation in hand. Our three teams have achieved this very well so far,” added Capito.

Back on the big stage – where it all began for the Polo R WRC

The big stage in 2011 is now the big stage in 2013: the international public caught its first glimpse of the Volkswagen Polo R WRC in Sardinia. The first concept model of the World Rally Car “made in Wolfsburg” was presented on the Costa Smeralda in May 2011. Two years later, the Volkswagen Polo R WRC is back at the same location as one of the hot favourites for stage wins and overall victory. The Polo R WRC now has 104 special stages under its belt in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), of which it has won an impressive 56, with the Volkswagen crews also claiming four overall victories and a further four podiums.

Preparations for the second half of the season: testing in Sardinia

The Volkswagen works team has been hard at work testing in preparation for the Rally Italy in Sardinia. Two weeks before the start in Olbia, the three driver/co-driver pairings of Latvala/Anttila, Ogier/Ingrassia and Mikkelsen/Markkula each spent a day working on the set-up of the Polo R WRC. The main focus was on the differential set-up. ?

Quotes ahead of the Rally Italy

Jari-Matti Latvala, Polo R WRC #7
“I like the Rally Italy. It has a few very quick stages. You pass very close to rocks and trees at high speed, so you have to be really accurate. The ground is actually relatively hard and stony, but is normally covered by a thick layer of sand. For this reason, the grip is not perfect and the stages become very slippery. As such, it is not easy to find a good set-up. However, I think we found a good basis in Greece. I hope I can be up there challenging for victory again at other rallies this year. However, our main goal is to score as many points as possible in the Manufacturers’ Championship. The most important thing is to be consistent and quick over the remainder of the season.”

Sébastien Ogier, Polo R WRC #8
“Compared to Greece, the Rally Italy could well be a bit easier on the car. The ground is sandy in parts, so very soft. The heat will play a key role at this rally, as Sardinia is usually very warm at the end of June. Given the high temperatures, we will probably go with the hard compound. However, we are also aware that the softer variant generally works better on a sandy surface. It will be all about finding the right compromise to suit the conditions we actually face when we get there. One thing is clear: after the Rally Greece, which was not particularly easy for us, we want to get back on the front foot in Sardinia.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Polo R WRC #9
“I had an excellent weekend in Greece. To win three special stages and pick up a point on the Power Stage is a very good result – fourth place is my best finish so far in the WRC. I just want to continue as I have been doing so far. We have improved consistently since making our debut in the Polo R WRC in Portugal. As such, I am really looking forward to Sardinia. You can attack more at the Rally Italy than in Greece, as the material is not subjected to such great strain. We have also taken another step forwards in terms of the set-up, thanks to the tests ahead of the Rally Italy, during which we primarily worked on the differential.”

EVANS STEPS IN FOR AL-ATTIYAH TO CLAIM WRC DEBUT IN SARDINIA

Posted: June 16, 2013 9:37 AM

Having had to forfeit his entry for next week’s Rally Italia Sardegna, Nasser Al-Attiyah has offered his Qatar World Rally Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC to M-Sport’s latest talent – 2012 FIA WRC Academy Cup winner, Elfyn Evans.

Forced to miss the seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) due to commitments in Qatar, Al-Attiyah thought it only fit that his seat go to the rising Welsh star – presenting Evans with his World Rally Car debut somewhat earlier than expected.

Al-Attiyah’s co-driver, Giovanni Bernacchini, will co-pilot the Welshman throughout the Sardinian stages – his extensive knowledge something the youngster will be eager to capitalise on during an event he has never previously contested; let alone behind the wheel of M-Sport’s top-specification Fiesta.

Despite being unable to score team points for the Qatar World Rally Team, Evans will be eligible for WRC driver points. But the youngster won’t be concentrating on the top points next week. Taking full advantage of the opportunity, the Welshman aims to further increase his knowledge and experience ahead of a long-awaited return to the WRC 2 category with the all-new Ford Fiesta R5 at Neste Oil Rally Finland.

Elfyn Evans said:
“This is another absolutely fantastic opportunity for me and I want to say a huge thank-you to Nasser [Al-Attiyah] and Malcolm [Wilson] for considering me for the drive. “It will be great to get back behind the wheel in competition, but it will certainly be a challenging event! This will be my first time in Sardinia, my first time in a WRC car and my first time with Giovanni [Bernacchini, co-driver]. But with the team behind me and Giovanni’s extensive experience, I know that I will be in capable hands.

“My aim for the event is just to enjoy it and gain further experience. I’m learning all the time, and if I can make it through all of the stages on this tricky event then I’ll be happy. The most important thing at the moment is to get as much competitive seat time as possible, and that will be my main goal next weekend.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It is a huge shame that Nasser [Al-Attiyah] won’t be with the team in Sardinia, but unfortunately he has commitments back home in Qatar. Elfyn [Evans] thoroughly deserves this opportunity. He is learning fast, and as he works towards more rounds during the latter half of the season, the added competition – this time behind the wheel of the [Ford] Fiesta RS WRC – will be extremely valuable.”

Rally Guide / Event Website / Details

Posted: June 16, 2013 9:36 AM






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