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Italy (Sardina) - 8-10 Jun 18

Posted: June 9, 2018 6:21 PM - 1627 Hits

Round 7 - 2018 World Rally Championship

Live Results (Italy 2018) Also available at: rally-base results & ewrc-results.com
Radio: WRC All Live Audio Stream
News: www.wrc.com
Event Website: Rally Italia

First stage each day - Times are Irish/UK (Sardinia is 1 hour ahead)
Shakedown Thu - 07:00
SS1 Thu - 17:00 (Superspecial)
SS2 Fri - 07:33
SS10 Sat - 07:38
SS17 Sun - 07:45

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing targets Sardinia success

Posted: June 1, 2018 9:40 AM

Rally Italia Sardegna represents the halfway point of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship season, as round seven out of 13. The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team will again be aiming for a top result on the Italian island event with its Yaris WRCs driven by Jari-Matti Latvala, Ott Tänak and Esapekka Lappi.

Rally Italia Sardegna is characterised by fast but narrow gravel roads, which are lined by trees and rocks, leaving very little margin for error. The fine sandy surface is gradually swept away by each passing car, exposing the harder, rocky base underneath. High temperatures can stress the crews and their cars.

The event will begin on Thursday evening with a super special stage at Ittiri near the rally base in Alghero. Friday consists of four stages to the north-east which will all be run twice, while on Saturday there will be two loops of three stages in the Monte Acuto region, separated by another visit to Ittiri. The rally concludes on Sunday with two repeated stages north of Alghero.

Quotes:

Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“I am feeling confident about we can achieve in Sardinia. We had a very good test there before Rally Argentina, which was of course a great event for us. I believe that we should have a strong package for these kind of roads. Generally, the performance has been very positive over the past few rallies, and everybody in the team is working hard to keep improving. We already had some good results in Sardinia last year, and Ott won the rally, so I think it is an event where all of our drivers feel comfortable. Overall, there are many reasons to be positive.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“I always enjoy competing in Sardinia. I actually drove there for the first time in 2003 on the Rally Costa Smeralda, the year before the WRC started going there. The roads have a very hard base with a layer of sand on the top which can make it very slippery for the first cars on the road. The roads are narrow but you can go very fast if you can keep to the right line. I feel positive heading to Sardinia. I had two clean days of driving in Portugal without any mistakes and this helped my confidence a lot, and I am really enjoying driving this car.”

Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“Sardinia is a special rally for me as it’s where I got my first win one year ago. Hopefully we can get another top result this time around. I think this will be a key rally for the championship. Portugal obviously didn’t go as well as we planned or hoped, so it will be really important to score some strong points. We are trying to be well prepared as possible, and I know that the team is working really hard. I am really happy with how the car has been performing: In Argentina it was fantastic and it felt good in Portugal as well. Now we just need to translate that speed into a good result before the summer holidays.”

Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“I am really looking forward to competing in Sardinia again. We had a pretty good result there already last year and my speed was good, as we won six stages. I think I have learnt a lot since then, and there has also been a lot of progress with the car. I have felt very comfortable over the last couple of rallies and I have had the confidence to push hard. Now that we are fifth in the championship, we will have to run quite early on the road on Friday. The road cleaning effect can be quite big there, but I got some good experience of this on the final two days in Portugal, so I am not worrying about this too much.”

Hyundai Motorsport Preview: Sardinia

Posted: June 1, 2018 9:36 AM

Hyundai Motorsport heads to Rally Italia Sardegna, round 7 of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), at the head of the drivers’ and manufacturers’ classification following a hard-fought victory last time out in Portugal.

The WRC’s run of four consecutive gravel events continues on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, where Hyundai Motorsport has enjoyed plenty of success in previous seasons: a double podium in 2015, victory in 2016 and third place in 2017.

The 20-stage rally offers one of the shortest competitive distances of the season at just 313km. However, the Alghero based event includes plenty of spectacular gravel courses against a backdrop of stunning seaside vistas with high temperatures putting additional stress on crews and cars.

Hyundai Motorsport will field three cars for the Sardinia round with Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger, Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul and Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall competing in cars #4, #5 and #6 respectively.

As championship leader, Neuville will have the honour and challenge of being first on the road on the opening days. Mikkelsen and Paddon, meanwhile, will be looking to bounce back from a tricky Portugal where misfortune hampered their weekend performances.

The team carried out testing of its Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC in Sardinia after Rally Argentina in early May in preparation of next weekend’s event.

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented:
“We were able to compete at a very high level in Portugal with all of our crews demonstrating the pace of our Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, and stage winning abilities. Like all teams, it was a character-building weekend but we came away with a win and leading both championships. Our target for Sardinia is to build on that, although we know it will be another tough weekend. Thierry will be first on the road, which will immediately put him at a disadvantage, but we hope he can make the best of the situation. For Andreas and Hayden, after a frustrating weekend for them both in Portugal, we hope they will be able to get back onto the pace straightaway and fight at the front. Our car has shown itself to be strong on gravel and we have had a lot of success in Sardinia previously, so we aim to keep our hold on the championship lead heading into the long break.”

WRC Crew Notes: Mikkelsen/Jæger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Third place in Sweden remains Norwegian crew’s best result of the season to date
Sixth place in drivers’ championship

Mikkelsen said: “Rally Italia Sardegna is a very warm event and it’s important to have high concentration; there are many rocks sticking out that can cause punctures or damage. You also need a stable car because the stages are quite narrow and rough with a lot of bumps. We have made improvements to the car on gravel, which has given me an improved feeling, and I felt really comfortable during Rally de Portugal. This is a positive sign for Sardinia where our aim is to catch up some points and improve our position in the drivers’ championship, while also helping the team to increase the manufacturers’ lead. It will be tough on mind and body, as well as the car and tyres, but we’re ready for it.”

WRC Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Top of the drivers’ championship following win in Portugal
Previous winner of Rally Italia Sardegna in 2016; three consecutive podiums from 2015-17

Neuville said: “Portugal was the near-perfect weekend for us, as we took 29 out of a maximum 30 points. We now move onto Sardinia, which is one of the most technical events on the calendar, leading the championship. The roads are very narrow and become extremely rough on the second pass. The grip level is quite high on the repeat loop, but we often lack traction on the first run through. They are tricky conditions but the stages tend to suit my driving style and pace notes system. I am able to be very precise and I have been successful there many times in the past.”

WRC Crew Notes: Paddon/Marshall (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Took stage win and twice led the rally in Portugal before retirement
Previous podium scorer in Sardinia in 2015, long-time event leader in 2017

Paddon said: “First of all, I am feeling fighting fit after the incident in Portugal and I’m ready to get back down to business. Up to that point, we were able to show a competitive level of performance, taking a stage win and battling for the lead. Rally Italia Sardegna is certainly one of the highlights of the year, located in the Mediterranean with sunny conditions and hot temperatures. The stages are very twisty and challenging. It is a rally I enjoy, and from where I have good memories. I scored my first WRC podium there in 2015 and led the rally in 2017. I would like to finish off what we started last year.”

Bite-size Sardinia

20 special stages over a competitive distance over 313.46km
Action gets started with the Ittiri Arena Show on Thursday evening before a repeated loop of four stages (Tula, Castelsardo, Tergu-Osilo, Monte Baranta) on Friday
Longest individual day of the weekend takes place on Saturday. Three stages (Coiluna-Loelle, Monti di Ala, Monte Lerno) held in morning and afternoon, separated by the short 1.4km Citta di Ittiri stage
Monte Lerno contains the iconic Micky’s Jump, one of the highlights of the rally
Rally concludes on Sunday with two runs of the Cala Flumini and Sassari-Argentiera coastal stages, the latter of which is run as the Power Stage

SUN, SEA, SAND AND SPEED M-SPORT FORD SET FOR SARDINIA

Posted: June 1, 2018 9:32 AM

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs are ready to tackle the gravel stages of Rally Italia Sardegna – Sébastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen all eager to shine at next week’s island event.

With five days of testing on location, the team are well prepared for the challenges ahead and keen to showcase the power and performance of the top-specification Fiesta.

Having won the event last year – and coming off the back of a double podium in Portugal – expectations are high and the team are hopeful of challenging for another strong result.

RALLY ITALIA SARDEGNA PRIME RALLY TERRITORY

Sardinia’s beautiful beaches and luscious landscapes attract visitors in their droves, but the island is also prime rally territory – its rugged mountains, ancient forests and unspoilt rural terrain providing some of the year’s most demanding stages.

Lined with car-breaking obstacles, these stages leave no room for error. Fast and narrow, they demand precision driving and note calling from the drivers and co-drivers who must maintain their focus in temperatures as high as 30C.

More than a third of this year’s route is new – countless sections within each of the demanding speed tests offering a different challenge to last year’s encounter.

But the service park remains a familiar affair, hosted by the coastal town of Alghero. The town hosts the ceremonial start as well as the podium ceremony, and its idyllic cafes and mouth-watering selection of Italian gelateria are a must for teams and spectators alike.

MALCOLM WILSON TEAM PRINCIPAL

With the season break just around the corner, Team Principal Malcolm Wilson is keen to see his team realise their potential at next week's Rally Italia Sardegna. The Cumbrian squad normally hope to taste champagne at the end of the rally, but in Sardinia they’ll be hoping to sample the Azure waters of the Costa Smeralda – the winning team diving into the crystal clear waters in celebration.

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“Rally Italia Sardegna is an event that our team always looks forward to. It’s a beautiful island that is picture-perfect for rallying, and its rural terrain offers some of the most challenging and demanding stages on the calendar. Having won this event last year, the Fiesta is a proven contender and we’ll be aiming to challenge for the top results once again next week.

“Sébastien will certainly be keen to add to his tally of impressive performances at this event. Having won here three times, he knows what it takes to deliver and he’ll certainly be pushing for a strong result. He won’t have to open the road this year and I’m sure he’ll make the most of that, but there’ll still be a lot of drivers benefitting from a cleaner road behind.

“Two of those drivers are Elfyn and Teemu – who proved in Portugal that they’re ready and capable of challenging for the top results. Both could secure another podium next week, and their recent performance provided a big boost for the team – with added motivation for both championships as the season continues.

“All three drivers are capable of securing strong results next week and I’m eager to see what they can do. The competition will be extremely strong, but I think we have the potential to deliver a good team result all round.”

SÉBASTIEN OGIER JULIEN INGRASSIA

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia know what it takes to secure victory in Sardinia. The Frenchmen have won the island event three times, and have a wealth of experience under their belts – starting the rally for the tenth time next weekend.

With an uncharacteristic mistake ending their hopes of victory in Portugal, the five-time World Champions will have a point to prove in Sardinia. Having to forgo their championship lead, the pairing will no longer be tasked with opening the road – something they’ll be keen to use to their advantage as they hunt down another top result next week.

Previous starts: 9
Best result: 1st (2013, 2014 and 2015)

Sébastien Ogier said:
“Portugal was a shame as we had the speed to challenge for the win. It was a small mistake with big consequences, but we put it behind us and are now fully focused on giving it everything we’ve got in Sardinia.

“Having competed here many times before, I’ve learned to really enjoy these demanding stages. It’s a beautiful island, but not the easiest of rallies with some very rough and abrasive terrain. You need to keep a margin and stay focused from start to finish – which is exactly what we intend to do next week.

“We won’t be opening the road this year, but we’ll still have something of an uphill battle with many fast drivers benefitting from a cleaner road behind. Even so, I’m confident that we can challenge for a good result. If we can keep the lead in sight on Friday night then we’ll be in with a chance – and will push for the best possible result.”

ELFYN EVANS DANIEL BARRITT

Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt made a return to the podium at Rally de Portugal, and the Brits will be keen to continue that trend when the action returns to Sardinia next week.

The island holds special memories for Evans – hosting his world rally car debut in 2013. In 2015 he finished just shy of the podium in fourth place overall, and the Welshman will be keen to do at least one better next week.

With their confidence high and the advantage of a cleaner road through the opening day of competition, the pairing are in with a good chance of challenging for another strong result.

Previous starts: 4
Best result: 4th (2015)

Elfyn Evans said:
“Sardinia will always be a special place for me. It’s where I first got behind the wheel of a world rally car and I’ve come to really enjoy the challenging nature of the stages. It’s not an easy rally by all means, but I think that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy it so much.

“It’s such a demanding event and there are so many things that you need to keep in mind. The stages themselves are very rough and abrasive. You need to keep a margin within your driving otherwise your rally can be over before it’s even begun.

“Then there’s the heat. At this time of year we can be looking at temperatures as high as 30C. That takes its toll on the cars, and the 50C plus temperatures inside the cockpit take their toll on the crew too!

“After our good result in Portugal we’re keen to keep that momentum going in Sardinia. We’ve completed two days of testing and we’ll have a fairly good road position on Friday that we’ll need to make the most of. If everything goes our way, I see no reason why we can’t be challenging for another strong result.”

TEEMU SUNINEN MIKKO MARKKULA

Teemu Suninen secured his maiden podium at Rally de Portugal, and the young Finn will be keen to see that form continue as the championship ventures to another familiar event next week – Rally Italia Sardegna.

Guided by experienced co-driver Mikko Markkula, Suninen has contested the Italian fixture on two previous occasions, and never fell short of victory. In 2015, the Finnish pairing won the WRC 3 category. In 2016, they won the WRC 2 category.

Returning to the island at rallying’s highest level, another win may be a big ask but the pairing are certainly in with a chance of securing another strong result. With their confidence high, and a good road position for the opening day, Suninen has the potential to continue where he left off in Portugal.

Previous starts: 2
Best result: 8th (2016)

Teemu Suninen said:
"I didn’t compete in Sardinia last year, but I did win the WRC 2 category in 2016 so hopefully that will help us this year. Every rally is difficult at this level and every minor detail has an effect on the end result – I’m sure Sardinia will be no different.

“We completed a one day test last week which proved really useful. The road was quite slow, but that was good for me as it’s on these slower roads where I need to focus on improvements – where it’s slow and narrow and you need to take an advantage over every inch of the road.

“Even on the test I noticed how hot it will be next week. Normally I drink three litres a day but in Sardinia I expect to be drinking more than five litres a day! The stages are also quite rough and that means that we will have to get every stone marked in our notes.

“By focusing on my rivals my speed won´t improve. I’ll focus purely on my own driving and on improving stage by stage – then we’ll see where we are at the end of the rally.”

A HEAVYWEIGHT CHALLENGE FOR THE C3 WRC

Posted: June 1, 2018 9:30 AM

Round seven of thirteen, Rally Italia Sardegna marks the halfway stage in this season's WRC for Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT. This challenging rally is packed with difficulties that Craig Breen – Scott Martin and Mads Østberg – Torstein Eriksen will be tackling in their C3 WRCs.

GENUINE HOPES

A relaxed, easy-paced atmosphere typical of seaside resorts awaits the crews in Alghero, the traditional hub of Rally Sardegna, giving the place a decidedly summer holiday feel, and yet there will be no time to soak up the dolce vita on the island's narrow, twisty roads. Little more than a car's width in some places, lined by bushes, trees and rocks and offering little grip due to the thick layer of dust that settles on the surface, the stages call for finesse and restraint behind the wheel. Precise pace notes are also of vital importance given the highly technical nature of the roads. With ten previous appearances in Sardinia, Mads Østberg – who will be contesting his third rally in the C3 WRC after Sweden and Portugal –knows the island roads' specific features very well and considers it to be one of his favourite rallies of the season. He certainly enjoyed finishing as runner-up here in 2014 after an epic fight with the then dominant VWs, also when competing for Citroën. At an event where a lot of loose gravel and sand are swept clear on the first pass, he also knows how much his tenth position in the running order on Friday gives him the perfect opportunity to get his weekend off to a strong start. Although less experienced at this round, Craig Breen, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT's other representative in Sardinia, also intends to converts the promising performances seen on the first leg of last month's Rally de Portugal into a good result, making the best possible use of his eighth place in the running order. And like Mads, Craig will enjoy two days of intensive pre-event testing just before the rally gets under way, with the aim of being on the pace straight away.

STUNNING MEDITERRANEAN BACKDROP

There is no reason to believe that the closely-contested fight at the front seen since the start of the season won't continue here – and at a frantic pace once again – especially since only limited changes have been made to the stages compared with last year's event. Most of the changes to the stages are restricted to short sections and only Castelsardo (14.37km), contested on Friday, is entirely new. Saturday's leg will present the competitors with the weekend's heavyweight challenge, with almost 150 kilometres of timed stages, and the long Monti Di Ala (28.52km) and Monte Lerno (28.89km) tests each tackled twice, before a final sprint on Sunday against the stunning backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea.

WHAT THEY SAID

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
"This event has a reputation for presenting the crews and their cars with a stern challenge every year. The aim will be to keep moving forward and get among the frontrunners. Craig has the potential to secure one of the minor places. He showed it again in Portugal by running third at one stage, just a few seconds off the lead. Meanwhile, Mads has already shown he is capable of fighting for a podium spot and he also has a lot of experience here, which will undoubtedly be useful to the team."

Craig Breen
"This is one of the WRC rallies where I have the least experience, but fortunately it hasn't changed much since last year and so I have most of the pace notes already. It's not necessarily my favourite event, because it's never easy to adopt a fluid driving style on these really narrow, technical stages. But I have a good road position in eighth in the running order, because it's one of the events where cleaning is most significant, so I'm going to try and make the most of it on the opening day."

Number of appearances at the event: 2
Best result: 25th (2017)

Mads Østberg
"It's one of my favourite rallies. I've always been quick here. First of all, you need very good pace notes and then you need to find the right balance between pushing where you can and defending when there is a real risk of smashing the car. I learned a lot about the C3 WRC in Portugal and ended up by showing some pretty decent speed. The two days of pre-event testing held this week will help me to find the right pace, especially as I fully intend to take advantage of my good position in the running order."

Number of appearances at the event: 10
Best result: 2nd (2014)

KEY FIGURES

20 timed stages covering a total of 314.36 km
35 degrees in the air, 50°C on the ground and around 60 degrees in the cockpit at the end of the stages – these are the maximum temperatures generally seen in Sardinia
5 overall wins secured by Citroën at Rally Italia Sardegna: Sébastien Loeb in 2005, 2006 (Xsara WRC), 2008 (C4 WRC) and 2011 (DS3 WRC), and Mikko Hirvonen in 2012 (DS3 WRC)
2004 the year that Rally Italia moved home from San Remo to Sardinia

A RALLY, A CHALLENGE

The hardest rally on tyres

With its hard base roads, swept clear of loose gravel and sand without becoming rutted, coupled with very high temperatures – especially in the afternoon – Rally Italia Sardegna is arguably the hardest on tyres in the WRC. These factors mean the crews will be almost certainly forced to fit hard tyres for the second pass. In the morning, however, crews often opt for tyre combinations based on their position in the running order, depending on whether they need more grip if they have to contend with the more slippery conditions faced by those opening the road. From a mechanical point of view, the heat and the large amount of dust kicked up on the stages, which can clog up ventilation flaps and extractor vents, mean that the technical team has to be especially attentive to the various engine and hydraulics temperatures, in order to anticipate any risk of overheating.

CITROËN SECRETS

Mads Østberg recalls…
"I remember finishing as runner-up here in 2014 with Citroën. To be honest, I have some very good memories of that rally; it was perhaps one of the best moments of my entire rallying career. We had a very good rally! I had a firm grip on third place behind the VWs of Latvala and Ogier, when Jari-Matti picked up a puncture on the sixty-odd kilometres of Saturday's final stage. At the time, we were still allowed to get messages from the team in the cockpit, so the guys told me about the puncture straight away and asked me to push to get past Latvala. I set the second fastest time on the stage, giving me lead of 21.3s over Jari-Matti going into the final leg, which promised to be very closely contested again. However, with the support of Kévin – my engineer that season – we gambled on tyres for the final day, going with a mix of soft and hard compounds. I managed to secure my second stage win of the weekend and ended up finishing ahead of Latvala by 9.7s!"

Entry List

Posted: June 1, 2018 9:29 AM

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