Sardinia Preview: Solberg Confident

Championship leader Petter Solberg is confident of a second consecutive Rally of Italy victory even though the event has undergone a radical overhaul since last year's Sardinia debut

Sardinia Preview: Solberg Confident

Driver dissatisfaction with the stages last year, the first on the Mediterranean island after the switch from the Italian Riviera, has caused organisers to change nearly 80 percent of the runs.

The rally has also been moved forward from September but will continue to be run on sandy gravel tracks.

That should favour Solberg in his battle to wrest the world title from Frenchman Sebastien Loeb, who won last time out in New Zealand to draw to within a point of the Subaru driver at the top of the standings.
 
"Sardinia should be a very good event and I think we have a strong chance of winning it if everything works out well," said Norwegian Solberg, already a winner in Sweden and Mexico this year.

"It's a different rally to New Zealand as it's more narrow and twisty and that, along with the temperatures, is better for the tyres.

"I'll be running first on the road again, but that's the price you pay for leading the championship so I'm not complaining."

Loeb believes he is on course to retain his title as he heads into the fifth of the season's 16 rounds.

"I'm at exactly the same point that I was at the same time last year," said Loeb, who also won the opening rally of the season in Monte Carlo.

"In view of the championship, second place was sufficient last year. Which is just as well because at the time it didn't seem possible to do any better. Petter was unassailable.

"This year, we don't yet know what the profile of the rally is going to be ... the majority of the stages are new. We all hope the new roads will be nice, and there apparently are some nice roads in the region."

One Better

Finn Marcus Gronholm, equal fourth in the championship standings six points behind Solberg, was second in New Zealand and is looking to go one better for Peugeot this weekend.

"We will be able to count on our car's excellent reliability," said the twice world champion. "We simply lacked a little 'plus' in New Zealand to be able to fight for victory."

Gronholm's team mate Markko Martin is third in the title race despite struggling to adjust to the Peugeot after his move from Ford and sounded less confident.

"Personally, I will be out to score as many points as possible of course while continuing to adapt the car's set-up to my driving style," said the Estonian.

Ford's Toni Gardemeister, level with Gronholm on 20 points, retired on the first stage with Skoda last year and so was delighted that the rally had a new look.

"There are so many stages this year that nobody is going to have a big advantage," said the 30-year-old Finn.

The rally opens with a special exhibition stage in Porto Rotondo on Thursday evening and returns to the Costa Smeralda resort 17 stages later for the finish on Sunday.

shares
comments
Next article

Loeb Takes Early Lead in Sardinia

Loeb Takes Early Lead in Sardinia
How Rovanpera tamed a wild Safari Rally Plus

How Rovanpera tamed a wild Safari Rally

The Safari Rally acted as a brutal test of driver and car resolve as multiple retirements opened the path for a historic Toyota 1-2-3-4 triumph, headed by star Kalle Rovanpera. But keeping things clean was only half of the challenge, as a well-timed charge when conditions worsened allowed the Finn to take control

WRC
1 h
How Tanak turned the tables to deliver Hyundai a timely WRC triumph Plus

How Tanak turned the tables to deliver Hyundai a timely WRC triumph

The 2019 champion has been a bit-part player recently, but Ott Tanak ended a 15-month drought in fine style with a dominant win in Sardinia. On a weekend when championship leader Kalle Rovanpera struggled with cleaning the road, his Hyundai rival has made his belated arrival into the title race and given cause for those predicting a walkover from the Toyota star to pause

WRC
Jun 6, 2022
How Rovanpera overcame rallying royalty in Portugal to extend his WRC lead Plus

How Rovanpera overcame rallying royalty in Portugal to extend his WRC lead

Although the Rally Portugal entry list featured World Rally Championship royalty in Sebastiens Loeb and Ogier, victory was secured by rallying's rising star in Kalle Rovanpera. Here's the story of his 2022 hat-trick, as his key rivals faltered among the gravel and asphalt ahead of them

WRC
May 23, 2022
The former WRC star playing the unsung hero role for Rovanpera Plus

The former WRC star playing the unsung hero role for Rovanpera

Kalle Rovanpera’s 2022 World Rally Championship displays have been spectacular, with the Toyota driver benefitting from a secret weapon in his crew to win two of the opening three rallies. But while the former challenger to Sebastien Loeb won’t take credit for his fellow Finn's performances, a key bond has been formed which could prove key to Rovanpera’s title charge

WRC
Apr 29, 2022
How Rovanpera's Croatia turnaround sent a message to his WRC rivals Plus

How Rovanpera's Croatia turnaround sent a message to his WRC rivals

After a dominating Rally Croatia, a wrong tyre choice on the final day looked to have undone all Kalle Rovanpera's hard work and left him with a mountain to climb heading into the power stage. That he emerged the winner all the same has surely quelled any lingering doubts that the Finn is the man to beat in the 2022 WRC

WRC
Apr 25, 2022
How M-Sport's faith in Loubet led to a WRC reprieve after a dismal 2021 Plus

How M-Sport's faith in Loubet led to a WRC reprieve after a dismal 2021

It's fair to say 2021 was a year to forget for Pierre-Louis Loubet. A maiden full World Rally Championship season offered hope but soon turned into a nightmare that ended in hospital, after being hit by a car in a road traffic accident. Now handed a lifeline by M-Sport, the Frenchman is desperate to rebuild his career

WRC
Apr 20, 2022
Why WRC mechanics deserve more respect Plus

Why WRC mechanics deserve more respect

The drivers get the glare of attention, but it’s the mechanics who are key to the operation of any World Rally Championship car. Autosport donned a set of overalls and joined M-Sport on a Belgian national rally event to get an inside look into the trials and tribulations of a rally mechanic

WRC
Apr 17, 2022
The African McRae aiming to become a WRC pioneer Plus

The African McRae aiming to become a WRC pioneer

Taking his first step into the Junior World Rally Championship category, McRae Kimathi - named after 1995 world champion Colin - found himself in the unfamiliar climes of Sweden's snow and ice. Having impressed, Kimathi hopes to blaze a trail to the top level of WRC and help other African drivers to step onto the ladder

WRC
Mar 8, 2022