Preview of the Sardinia Rally: Ready for the island

Preview of the Rally Sardinia
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E Actually the Rally Sardinia in the World Cup should have been history long ago. In view of the high transport costs over the sea and poor audience participation, a move to mainland Italy seemed already a done deal, but then the funding for a rally starting in Rome fell through. Nevertheless, it could be the last World Cup run on the island. Together with Wales and Greece, the Italian rally is on the brink in favor of new overseas races.

Starting position plays a major role

Unlike last year, the World Cup circus is not returning to Sardinia in autumn, but in summer, and the riders may have to reckon with the heat that Greece did not have three weeks ago. The really tricky thing is not the weather, but the routes. On rocky ground there is usually a loose layer of sand on the gravel stages, which means that the starting position plays a major role in qualifying. Those who start well ahead on Friday's long stage with eight stages lose a lot of time on the loose surface, while the tires of the later starters find considerably more grip.

Another problem is the topography. There are often massive rocks to the right and left of the inland paths. If you deviate from the ideal line, you will quickly find yourself in the loose sand and then slide unsteadily against a solid obstacle. Damage to the suspension is not uncommon.

WRC in Sardinia without Sébastien Loeb

With four victories in nine Sardinia rallies, Sébastien Loeb is the best at the dance on the razor blade, but the world champion is missing. He is on part-time retirement and only drives at his home game in France in 2013. His Citroën teammates have recently shown mixed performances. Dani Sordo finished second in Greece and shows that he can drive fast on gravel but dodged a fight for victory. Mikko Hirvonen is slowly getting going with the new chassis on the DS3. The Finnish veteran won in Sardinia in 2012, his first and only victory in a Citroën.

Compatriot Jari-Matti Latvala also has good memories. The VW factory driver won in 2009. VW's spearhead Sébastien Ogier has had to do without a win in Sardinia, and he wants to wipe out this gap. The lead of the championship leader is so big that he can afford to drive home before the summer break.However, it has been shown in the course of the season that Ogier can sometimes keep the opponents under control even at half throttle, he remains the favorite.

VW arrives 18 points ahead of Citroën

With 126 points after six of 13 runs, he has 52 points ahead of Latvala, who will not attack him in the championship fight, 58 points ahead of rival Loeb, who does not drive for the World Cup and finally 65 points on the first real pursuer Hirvonen. It looks more exciting in the brand rating, where VW is 18 points ahead of Citroën. But the defending champions from France need victories to prevent newcomer VW from winning the title in the debut season.

The former Ford works team M-Sport does not play a role in the championship fights. The Fiesta WRC shows itself to be capable of winning individual rallies, and the young guard with Mads Östberg (23), Evgeny Novikov (22) and Thierry Neuville (24) is always good for a first win of the season.

Nach One win and two third places, Germany's young talent Sepp Wiegand is back in the steering wheel. The Saxon competes in the WRC2 category in the Fabia S2000 from Skoda Germany to challenge the Katari Abdelaziz Al-Kuwari for the championship lead again. The competition upgraded in the spring and bought Regional Rally Cars with (RRC) turbo engines. Former Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica from Poland turned into a serious opponent after his victory in Greece.

Rally Sardinia only lasts 2 days

Also at the start is the Production car category of the German ex-European champion Armin Kremer in the Subaru Impreza from Stohl Racing. For the second time this World Cup season, Christian Riedemann is also moving out. The Sulinger, who left the WRC3 category debut in Portugal with a gearbox failure, is hoping for a good result in the heavily occupied class.

The schedule of the Rally Sardinia is shorter than ever with 2 days. It starts on Friday morning (June 21st) with a first stage that lasts into the night with eight stages and 147 special stages. On Saturday there are eight more tests with 157 kilometers. The winner will be chosen on Saturday evening in front of the Archaeological Museum in Olbia at 6:50 p.m.


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