Preview: WRCs gravel tour continues onto the Mediterranean
Fresh from our recent victory in Portugal, we now tackle the tricky gravel stages of Rally Italia Sardegna, as the 2018 World Rally Championship season reaches its halfway point.
We head to Sardinia leading both the drivers and manufacturers classifications, which will mean added pressure at an event where we have scored plenty of success in the past.
Thierry and Nicolas have taken three consecutive podiums on the island, including a popular win in 2016. As championship leaders, they will be first on the road at the start of this years event.
Portugal was a near-perfect weekend for us, said Thierry. Sardinia is one of the most technical events on the calendar but the stages tend to suit my driving style and pace notes system.
Back in business
As part of our three-car line-up, Andreas/Anders and Hayden/Seb will compete in the #4 and #6 i20 Coupe WRC cars respectively. Both crews endured difficulties in Portugal despite showing pace throughout the weekend.
I am feeling fighting fit and Im ready to get back down to business, said Hayden. Rally Italia Sardegna is certainly one of the highlights of the year. I scored my first WRC podium there in 2015 and led the rally in 2017. I would like to finish what we started last year.
Andreas, too, is eager to bounce back on the hot and oppressive Sardinian stages. Its important to have high concentration, he said. There are many rocks sticking out that can cause punctures or damage. It will be tough on the mind and body, as well as the car and tyres, but were ready for it.
More Mediterranean memories
Rally Italia Sardegna is made up of 20 special stages over a competitive distance of 313.36km. Action gets underway with the Ittiri Arena Show on Thursday before taking in longer routes from Friday through to Sundays rally-concluding Power Stage.
Our Team Principal Michel is aiming to build on our positive Portuguese weekend and to add to our double Sardinian podium in 2015, victory in 2016 and third place in 2017.
We know it will be another tough weekend, he commented. 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.