Martin struggles in Italy

Ford's Markko Martin has admitted that he's finding the twisty nature of the WRC's new Sardinia setting a difficult challenge. The Estonian currently lies third overall in the Supermag Rally Italia Sardinia 33s down on pacesetter Petter Solberg after three stages

Martin struggles in Italy

The sandy gravel runs of Sardinia replace the asphalt of Sanremo, which has traditionally hosted the Italian rally. Many drivers commented after the recce on Friday that the tight and twisty roads would be unforgiving should a mistake be made.

"The stages are technical and not so enjoyable to drive," Martin said during the service break. "The third stage was so twisty that it made the roads on Cyprus look like a motorway."

Martin started out well with second fastest time on the opening stage, but dropped time when he stalled on SS2, before setting a fourth best time on SS3 which left him third overall after the first loop of three stages. "I dropped a few seconds after stalling at a hairpin five kilometres from the end of the second stage," he explained, "but apart from that I've had no problems. I gambled with my tyre selection and to be honest I still don't know whether it was right or not."

Martin's team-mate, Francois Duval, is just seven second behind the Estonian in sixth, and is confident that the roads will be faster for the second run through the stages this afternoon.

"The surface should be cleaner on the second pass this afternoon but it will probably be quite rutted with a few stones exposed," he said. "I think we will make the suspension slightly harder. They're difficult roads. There's no room for manoeuvre at all. If you slide just a few centimetres off line then you are likely to hit the stones by the side of the road which would probably rip a wheel off."

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