World Rally Championship

Back to winning ways in WRC

1-2 finish for Thierry/Martijn and Esapekka/Janne

1-2 finish for Thierry/Martijn and Esapekka/Janne

Our team is celebrating our first victory of the season after a gruelling weekend at Rally Italia Sardegna, the sixth round of the 2023 WRC season.

Thierry/Martijn triumphed in their i20 N Rally1 Hybrid with team-mates Esapekka/Janne just behind them in second.

As a result of his win, Thierry has jumped to second place in the drivers’ standings.

Sixth top-step success in Sardinia
Victory was by no means an easy feat; uncharacteristic rain in Sardinia on Friday and Saturday exacerbated the difficult conditions on the stages, causing issues for many competitors.

Thierry and Martijn were a solid third after Friday, but it was Saturday where they came into their own. They found a steady rhythm that saw them claw back the gap to first place. Although the deficit doubled on SS10 Erula-Tula, the Belgians responded. After four stage wins and a spectacular drive on SS14, they inherited a lead they would never surrender.

“I’m really happy to be on the top step of the podium after such a challenging and incredible weekend,” summarised Thierry. “We had to manage the tyres throughout, and it was very tough on our cars but we had great reliability and it really paid off.”

Team work makes the dream work
Esapekka once again demonstrated rally-winning potential while battling for the lead against Sébastien Ogier for much of the event. Second place completes a hat-trick of consecutive podium finishes for the Finnish crew.

“A very important result for a team,” added Esapekka. “We really wanted to push for the victory as a team, and to come away with a 1-2 is very good.”

It was a weekend to forget for Dani and Cándido. On Friday’s first run of the rally’s longest stage, Monte Lerno – Sa Conchedda (49.9km), the Spaniards rolled their i20 N Rally1 Hybrid. Although they were able to return and recover to fifth on Saturday, the discovery of an exhaust failure after two stages on Sunday resulted in their retirement.

“This has been a difficult weekend for me in general,” admitted Dani. “I didn’t start it well, and I made a mistake on the first day that put us on the back foot for the rest of the event.”

Final thoughts
“We have been consistent podium finishers so far this season but we were yet to win, and we have done that in beautiful fashion,” said our Team Principal Cyril. “Although such a result in challenging conditions is always a team effort, our drivers need to be particularly praised.”

“I would also like to take a moment to mention Craig,” he added. “He remains a part of our team, and our success, and this win today is very much for him.”

WRC returns with Safari Rally Kenya, round seven of the 2023 season, from June 22-25.


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