World Rally Championship

Preview Rally Italia Sardegna

Hyundai Motorsport hopes to extend its lead at Rally Italia Sardegna (May 31 – June 2)

Hyundai Motorsport hopes to extend its lead at Rally Italia Sardegna (May 31 – June 2)

Hyundai Motorsport is looking to continue its positive momentum at Rally Italia Sardegna (May 31 – June 2), the sixth round of the 2024 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) season, after claiming a first double-podium of the season at Rally de Portugal.

Similarly to round five, Rally Italia Sardegna is comprised of fast gravel stages that frequently alternate between wide and narrow roads. Set in front of a picturesque backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea, the idyllic setting does anything but reflect the nature of the rally. Deep ruts and extreme heat push both driver and machine to the limit, with the rough surface creating extremely abrasive conditions. These factors emphasise the importance of tyre choice, with crews looking for reliability and longevity as well as speed.

The crews representing Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team will remain unchanged from Portugal: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe, Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja and Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera. All three pairings performed well on the Iberian roads, using their experience to extract strong pace from the trio of Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid cars, while also avoiding major incident. This resulted in both of the team’s full season crews – Neuville/Wydaeghe and Tänak/Järveoja – standing on the podium, with Sordo/Carrera finishing closely behind in fifth.

A similar, if not better result will be the target at Rally Italia Sardegna, an event at which Hyundai Motorsport has excelled during its decade in WRC. Since 2014, the team has scored six victories, 14 podiums and 88 stage wins on the Italian island – all figures it will be hoping to add to over the course of the rally.

A brand-new format will be trialled at the 2024 edition of the event. Competitive running will be spread across 48 hours, starting with Shakedown on Friday morning and finishing with the podium ceremony at 15:30 CEST on Sunday. The condensed time frame also means less distance, with the 16 stages totalling just 266.12km. This shorter itinerary means the trio of crews must push their Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid cars to the limit and make the most of every kilometre.

Hyundai Motorsport President and Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul said: “Portugal proved to be another positive step forward for the team. From the double podium to claiming the lead of the manufacturers’ championship, and even to Ott feeling more at one with the car, there was a lot of good to take away from the event. We make the trip to Sardinia now knowing that we have three crews that can push hard on gravel, so we are hoping for a strong result. It has also been one of the most successful rallies for the team historically, so we are hoping for a clean podium finish.”

Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (#11 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)

  • Belgians enter round six 24 points ahead of competitors
  • Neuville looking to add to seven previous podiums in Sardinia

Neuville said: “Rally Italia Sardegna is a very technical rally, so we need to have a faultless drive across the weekend. We need really accurate pacenotes and a good setup; the difference in stages between the first and second pass can be huge, so we need to be able to adapt the car to those changes as well. The heat, tyre wear and length of the days are some of the biggest challenges we face throughout the event. This paired with the little amount of sleep we get due to long road sections makes it a unique challenge. Our approach to the weekend is the same as usual: we will be pushing for the best possible result considering the conditions, car and other important factors that can influence a rally. There’s no pre-event test and shakedown is not representative at all of the remainder of the rally, so that will be the biggest obstacle for us. However, we will work to overcome this and bring home the best result possible.”

Crew Notes: Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (#8 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)

  • #8 crew looking to capitalise on podium momentum
  • Tänak has stood on the top step twice before at Rally Italia Sardegna

Tänak said: “I would say we had a good and solid weekend in Portugal, so we want to build on that and it’s a bit easier now that we have more pace. Sardinia has some big challenges, it can be very slippery and hard to get the necessary amount of grip. That paired with the very hot temperatures makes everything much more of a challenge. Running the same tyres over the first and second loop makes it harder to put a strong package together, so we need a lot of traction from the setup, especially when we start early on the road. It’s an event where rallying is a lot more interesting and I always prefer that. We were very close to the win in Portugal before the puncture ruined it, so our plan is to do better this time in Sardinia.”

Crew Notes: Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (#6 Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid)

  • Crew aiming for first podium of 2024
  • Both of Sordo’s wins for Hyundai Motorsport have come in Sardinia (2019, 2020)

Sordo said: “Sardinia is a very similar surface to Portugal, but a bit more slippery in places. Portugal gave me good preparation for the event; I completed some good gravel kilometres at the last round. This year’s event is a lot more condensed, so we need a really fast start to get us the best possible road position for Saturday onwards. It’s an event where road position is really important, so we will see what we can do to optimise that. We need a lot of precision in the car because some passes are really narrow, meaning even more grip is needed to get the car through each pass safely. The target is definitely to finish on the podium, but it would be really nice to go one step further and fight for the victory.”

Weekend at a Glance

  • 48-hour itinerary will contain all of the weekend’s competitive running
  • Rally Italia Sardegna begins on Friday morning with Shakedown, followed by SS1 Osilo – Tergu (25.65km) in the afternoon
  • Friday’s four stages will cover a total distance of 77.82km
  • Saturday is the longest day of the event, with the crews needing to cover 149.00km in the space of 12 hours
  • Sunday concludes the weekend with four stages, including the Power Stage of SS16 Sassari – Argentiera 2 (7.10km)

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