Only one week since the tough conditions of Rally de Portugal, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team prepares to launch again on Rally d’Italia Sardinia. The Italian classic is a famously tough event, featuring tight and technical rough gravel roads blanketed with thick dust clouds and extreme temperatures.
M-Sport’s fleet of Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1s showed promising performance in Portugal, despite misfortune for some crews, the raw pace of the all-new car on gravel has highlighted the team’s potential. The team has won the event three times since its introduction to the world championship, with the most recent victory coming in 2017 when Ott Tanak claimed his maiden WRC victory, in M-Sport machinery.
The rally starts in Olbia on Thursday evening for an exciting Super Special Stage to bring the action in front of the Italy’s passionate fans before moving closer to its base in Alghero for the remainder of the rally. Saturday’s Monte Lerno stage brings some classic rally action with the iconic ‘Micky’s Jump’, while Sunday’s Sassari stage on the island’s west coast acts as the all-important final Power Stage.
Ambient air temperatures often exceed 30 degrees during Rally d’Italia which make for tough conditions for the crews. The challenge of Rally d’Italia is further compounded by a continually developing surface as the soft and sandy top surface covers a very hard and immovable bedrock. It results in an unstable surface that is ravaged by the powerful Rally1 cars digging up ruts and rocks – particularly on the second pass of each stage.
Crews are usually faced with two options for their rally strategy: an intense pace to stretch out a comfortable advantage which runs the risk of not finishing the rally or drive to the limits of the road and make up ground stage by stage. The winning strategy is usually a good balance between the two, by way of identifying the right areas to push and not push throughout the rally.
In the WRC2 category, Jari Huttunen returns to M-Sport in a Ford Fiesta Rally2 to continue his 2022 WRC2 campaign after an exceptional result on the rally last year which saw him claim a stunning fifth overall in Rally2 machinery.
Craig Breen, said:
“Really looking forward to Sardinia, it hasn’t been very long since the rally in Portugal but I’m happy with what we learned there, I think we’ve learned a lot during the weekend and it’s given us food for thought. I’m hoping that we can put that into practice already early on in Sardinia, we have a better road position starting on Friday, so let’s try to make the biggest advantage we can of that.
“It’s a rally I haven’t done for a few years, but the stages are a mix of old and new, but I like what I’ve seen from the onboards, and I think it’ll be a rally that’ll suit us. Let’s attack it as best we can, we obviously want to get ourselves back on track again and gain some good points, and start making some more inroads into our championship progress.”
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