|2008 Rally Italia Sardinia : WRC Round 6 of 15 : 16th - 18th May|
In this issue:
Leg 2 Unofficial Leaderboard
Leg [2 News
Leg 2 Team by Team News
Remaining Event Schedule
1. Unofficial Leaderboard
1. S Loeb/D Elena F Citroën C4 1h31m27.6s
2. D Sordo/M Marti E Citroën C4 +35.7s
3. P Solberg/P Mills N Subaru Impreza +53.8s
4. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS +58.9s
5. C Atkinson/S Prevot AUS Subaru Impreza +1m09.0s
6. G Galli/G BernacchiniI ITL Ford Focus RS +1m12.3s
7. J-M Latvala/M Attila FIN Ford Focus RS +1m31.1s
8. H Solberg/C Menkerud N Ford Focus RS +1m52.5s
9. U Aava/K Sikk EE Citroën C4 +2m19.8s
10. T Gardemeister FIN Suzuki SX4 +2m22.2s
14. M Wilson/S Martin GB Ford Focus RS +4m25.3s
2. Leg News
Sébastien Loeb (Citroen) moved to the front on the second stage and set three fastest times as he built a 35.7sec advantage over team-mate Dani Sordo, who improved his car's balance this afternoon. Petter Solberg (Subaru) was unhappy with his car's shock absorbers this morning but changes in service helped the Norwegian climb from fifth to third. BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team completed today's opening leg of Rally d'Italia Sardegna with its lead pairings each holding points-scoring positions after a difficult day's competition on the Mediterranean island. Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen, leaders of the drivers' standings in the FIA World Rally Championship, hold fourth in a Ford Focus RS World Rally Car. Team-mates and fellow Finns Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila are seventh at the wheel of another Focus RS. Subaru team-mate Chris Atkinson went the other way, the Australian holding third this morning before ending the day in fifth. Stobart's Gigi Galli (Ford) dropped a minute on the second stage with a rear left puncture but the Italian delighted home fans by winning one stage and posting top three times on all the others to recover to sixth. Andreas Mikkelsen (Ford) was fifth fastest on the opening test but rolled out on the next stage.
The second day is the longest of the rally and again comprises two identical loops of three stages, split by a return to Olbia for service. The opening stage is based in the same territory as today, while the other two are slightly further inland in the Gallura region. After leaving Olbia at 08.00, drivers cover 134.60km of competition before returning for the final overnight halt at 18.44.
4. Team by Team News
BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team completed today's opening leg of Rally d'Italia Sardegna with its lead pairings each holding points-scoring positions after a difficult day's competition on the Mediterranean island. Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen, leaders of the drivers' standings in the FIA World Rally Championship, hold fourth in a Ford Focus RS World Rally Car. Team-mates and fellow Finns Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila are seventh at the wheel of another Focus RS.
Latvala led this sixth round of the championship this morning before a mistake sent him tumbling down the leaderboard but he recovered well to climb the order again. Hirvonen was never truly happy with his performance, although the Finn was hindered by running first in the start order when road conditions were at their most difficult this morning.
#3 : Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: As championship leader Hirvonen was first in the start order all day. Conditions were slippery throughout, but during the morning he was unsure whether that was due to heavy rain earlier this week or loose gravel on the road surface. He completed the opening loop tied in third before dropping one position this afternoon. The 27-year-old Finn is just 5.1sec from third and in the middle of a fierce four-car battle which is covered by just over 18sec. "My feeling with the car was good and the handling was fine but when I tried to control my speed it didn't work," said Hirvonen. "I've not had the pace and I don't know why because I've not been over-driving. I want to go and check the data from my car to try to find where I'm losing time. Jari-Matti has a slightly different set-up so I'll check his data too. It was slippery all day but it wasn't just me that was affected by that. It's still possible to get to second, which is the minimum I want from this rally. "This morning the roads were really slippery and I couldn't push any harder. At times I was driving from ditch to ditch and in places I eased off because I didn't want to go off the road. I'm not sure if I was losing time because I was cleaning the loose gravel, or because I was breaking the damp surface and the cars behind had better grip. It was a strange day," he added.
#4 : Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila: Latvala made a blistering start by posting fastest time through the opening stage. However, the 23-year-old Finn was caught out by the narrow tracks on the following 33.96km Crastazza test and punctured the rear left tyre after sliding wide and swiping a bank. He dropped more than 90sec and slipped to 14th. "It was my mistake and all I can do is look in the mirror to see the reason why," said Latvala. "Maybe my pace notes were too quick, but at a downhill right bend about 18km after the start I hit a soft bank and the tyre came away from the rim and went down straight away. As it was a rear tyre I decided not to stop and change it because I would lose too much time and that proved the right decision. I had made my notes quicker than last year and although it was a fast corner, it was also narrow." He began his fightback immediately with three second fastest times before victory on the final stage lifted him into seventh. "I was happy with my speed this afternoon and I need to keep the same pace tomorrow. If I can do that a top five finish is still possible. My start position tomorrow will be good if it stays dry. I had a good pre-event test and both the car and tyres felt perfect. I tried to keep the car straighter and not go sideways and my tyres remained in really good condition as a result," he added.
#19 : Khalid Al Qassimi/Michael Orr: Abu Dhabi's Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr were 14th in another Focus RS until they hit a rock on the afternoon's opening stage and retired from the leg. They will restart tomorrow under SupeRally rules. "I tried to lift the pace – my confidence was high, I had good grip and things were going well," said Al Qassimi. "I entered a blind corner around 10km from the start that was hidden by a bush and saw this huge bedded rock - with an edge sticking out into the road – too late and hit it at speed. I damaged the front left of the car, including mechanical components like the driveshaft and steering arm. It was a bad corner and there was no way we could continue. I’m disappointed because I was gaining pace and time but this is part of the sport,"
Citroen Total World Rally Team
Citroën Total produced an assertive start to the 2008 Rally d'Italia Sardegna, with its two cars putting in a superb run to end the day in the irst two places at the top of this evening's leaderboard. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena are the overnight leaders ahead of teammates Dani Sordo/Marc Martí.
#1 : Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena: Sébastien Loeb, who was second on the road all day, wasn't the first driver to face the task of sweeping aside the loose top-coating of gravel, but he didn't benefit from ideal conditions, which explains why he was a little slow off the mark on SS1. His times then improved, however. "There were a few damp portions and some standing water on Terranova (SS3), but the recent heavy rain didn't have any big effect on the state of the stages," observed the reigning World Champion at tonight's service halt. "The island's dirt roads are as narrow and slippery as ever, and there was a bit of 'road-sweeping' to do. I am happy with the way our weekend has started. I have an excellent feeling with the car which responds exactly the way I like. Its handling is very precise and effective in all the different types of the conditions. We currently have a cushion of 53.8s over our closest chaser and that's a good way to go into the second day, but it isn't enough to consider that victory is in the bag."
#2 : Daniel Sordo/Marc Marti: "I am not all that fond of this rally, so it's nice to be in second place tonight," quipped Dani Sordo in this evening's interview zone. "Seriously, though, I am very happy with the way our day has gone. I suffered a bit from understeer on the first two stages but a change in the settings gave us more confidence for the rest of the day. I very much enjoyed driving my C4. As always in Sardinia, the conditions weren't easy, including some tricky sandy sections and numerous rocks on the road. We came through today's pitfalls but there's still a long way to go before Sunday's finish…"
Subaru World Rally Team
Petter Solberg and Phil Mills secured third place overall at the end of the first day of competition in Sardinia after a close-fought battle with team mates Chris Atkinson and Stéphane Prévot, who ended the day fifth. Atkinson and Prévot made a strong start to the event, finishing the first three stages of the morning sharing third overall with Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen. Solberg and Mills meanwhile lay fifth. Having made some changes to their car during the midday service, the Norwegian traded position with his team mate in an afternoon of change, snatching third position as Atkinson slipped to fifth with Hirvonen splitting the SWRT crews. The Australian remains within reach of the podium still, promising to keep this battle fuelled into the longest day of competition tomorrow.
#5 : Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: “I’m pleased with third and it’s very good for Subaru and for the whole team” said Petter Solberg. “This morning I wasn’t so comfortable but this afternoon was much better and I was really able to push. The team have been working hard and things are going well. A podium would be very, very good but there’s so many things happening on this rally. But at the end of the day it’s good and I am happy with third. Tomorrow we will have to push very hard to keep the third place, but I am feeling good at the moment.”
#6 : Chris Atkinson/Stephane Prevot: “Yeah, it’s not been a bad day today” echoed Chris Atkinson. “It’s good to get through the day with no problems though as it’s been tough. The guys behind are going well and are fast, so we’ll have to pick it up a bit tomorrow to stay in the fight. It’s a close battle for third, and there are a few people quite close who will join the fight tomorrow so it’ll be hard, that’s for sure. I hope we can find a bit more to stay in the top five, but it’s not a bad start.”
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford World Rally Team
The Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team occupy a strong position on the leaderboard on conclusion of the opening day of Rally d’Italia Sardegna; round six of the FIA World Rally Championship. Gigi Galli/Giovanni Bernacchini lead the way after setting five top-three fastest stage times out of a possible six, including a fastest time on stage 4. Galli is currently nestled in sixth position just 3.3 seconds adrift of fifth place. Team-mates Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin lie in 14th and will restart tomorrow with just over a one minute gap from a top-ten position. Competing on his ‘home’ event Galli was unlucky not to finish the day in a podium position after a small puncture on stage 2 this morning cost him crucial time. Despite picking up the puncture in the early part of the 33.96 kilometre Crastazza stage, the Italian made the correct decision to drive on the flat Pirelli Scorpion tyre which held up miraculously well losing him only one minute.
Wilson’s day kicked off with a concerned start after losing an uncharacteristically large amount of time over the morning loop of stages. The time loss was a result of incorrect setup to his Stobart Ford Focus RS WRC07 but thanks to the help of his technical team, changes were made in service and the 21-year-old was back on track setting vastly improved stage times this afternoon. Stage 3 and its repeated run on stage 6 caused some issues for Galli after he overshot the same junction on both tests. Luckily for the Italian no damage was caused as he still managed to score the third fastest stage time on both attempts at the 15.39 kilometre stage. For Wilson the only other issue was slight brake loss on the monster second stage which was the longest of the event. This problem too however was rectified in Service A and he returned in the afternoon with fully restored artillery.
#8 : Gigi Galli/Giovanni Bernacchini: “Today has been a good start to my home event and the feeling with the car is really good as you can see from my fastest time, the only problem was the puncture on stage 2 when we ran wide on a corner and hit some rocks. We were quite lucky because the Pirelli tyres remained strong and did their job and stayed on the rim until the end of the stage. Things are going well, the car feels good and the plan is to push some more tomorrow and see if we can close the gap on the leaders.”
#16 : Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin: “I just didn’t have the feeling this morning and the car is very unpredictable in these conditions. We made some changes in service to the setup of the car which helped massively and my confidence was much higher in the afternoon. It was a really good improvement on the afternoon stages and it all felt a lot better than the morning loop of stages. We had a small issue with the brakes which hopefully we can resolve tonight and the plan is to continue to improve tomorrow and over the rest of the rally.”
Suzuki World Rally Team
Both Suzuki drivers have made a solid start to the Rally d’Italia Sardegna, round six of the World Rally Championship. Toni Gardemeister returned to final service at the harbourside in Olbia occupying a provisional 10th position, while his team mate P-G Andersson was about nine seconds behind him in 11th. The crews were greeted by cooler conditions than were expected on Italy’s round of the World Championship, and stages that had been made extremely slippery by recent heavy rainfall. The Suzuki crews made a cautious start on the opening stage, but Gardemeister was up to an impressive sixth by the end of SS2 and arrived at midday service in a point-scoring eighth. Both cars have reached the finish of day one with no major problems and are poised to improve on their positions over the challenging leg two tomorrow.
#11 : Toni Gardemeister/Tomi Tuominen: “Today has actually been a very good day for us. To be sixth fastest and sixth overall at the end of the longest stage of the rally this morning was very encouraging. We had a few problems with the downshifts on the gearbox all day, but really nothing major. I just tried to be very smooth and precise on these stages, because if you go off the line then it is easy to have a puncture or hit a rock.”
#12 : Per-Gunnar Andersson/Jonas Andersson: “It’s been a steady start to the rally, but these stages are very difficult. Maybe it’s because of the changing level of grip, or maybe because the roads are so narrow, but it’s been hard to find a good rhythm. It’s been very slippery as well – a bit more than I expected. I had a problem with the brakes in the afternoon, but our objective has been to stay out of trouble and so far I think we’ve managed to achieve that. If we keep the same level of reliability tomorrow, then I’m confident that we can move up the order.”
5. Remaing Event Schedule
Saturday 17 May: Day 2 Olbia - Olbia
Serv C Olbia (15 mins) 08.00
SS7 Punta Pianedda 18.53km 09.39
SS8 Monte Lerno 29.31km 10.31
SS9 Su Filigosu 19.46km 11.16
Serv D Olbia (30 mins) 13.02
SS10 Punta Pianedda 18.53km 14.56
SS11 Monte Lerno 29.31km 15.48
SS12 Su Filigosu 19.46km 16.33
Serv E Olbia (45 mins) 17.59
Finish Olbia 18.44
Sunday 18 May: Day 3 Olbia - Porto Cervo
Serv F Olbia (15 mins) 07.00
SS13 Monte Olia 19.28km 08.10
SS14 Sorilis 18.66km 08.50
Serv G Olbia (30 mins) 10.11
SS15 Monte Olia 19.28km 11.36
SS16 Sorilis 18.66km 12.16
Serv H Olbia (10 mins) 13.17
SS17 Liscia Ruja 2.69km 14.10