WRC drivers tackle extreme ‘Safari Rally’ conditions in Sardinia

Sardinia is known for its rough gravel stages, but the revised route for this weekend’s 20th anniversary event is set to have perhaps the toughest conditions of the season.

Four-time Sardinian winner Sébastien Ogier returns to the championship this weekend after missing out on Portugal, but on a stage that will be seen in Kenya, which has earned a reputation as one of the toughest events in world motorsport. By analogy, I expect a harsh rally.

“I thought Safari Rally Kenya was three weeks away, but I’m already getting a taste of it because some sections are so rough,” Ogier told Autosport.

“Some sections feel like Kenya, to be honest.

According to reigning world champion and Ogier’s Toyota team-mate Kalle Rovanpera, the rough stages will require good concentration in car management to reach the finish.

“Some of the new parts they used to connect the long stage with the new stage on Friday morning etc. are so rough right now that I can’t imagine what it will be like on the second pass. Keep the car and tires together. It will be difficult,” Rovanpera told Autosport.

“For some parts we will manage the car.”

Toyota struggled to slow its pace last year, especially on Sardinia’s rough gravel rallies, with Rovanpera scoring his fifth best result in the event 12 months ago.

Elfyn Evans But while the Japanese manufacturer has made improvements to the GR Yaris and is confident it will bring the team closer to the top this year, the Welshman is wary that simply completing the event will not bring results.

“I don’t think the car is the problem now. I think the performance has been proven in most of these types of rallies these days,” said Evans.

“But of course this event is a big challenge. In terms of how rough it is in places, I think it’s probably the roughest or more difficult Sardinia in years.”

Thierry Neuville, Martin Widage, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally 1

Photo Credit: Austral / Hyundai Motorsport

“It’s a pretty extreme rally, so the finish is important here and in a thin field like ours, getting to the end always scores decent points.”

Friday’s schedule is expected to be particularly demanding, starting with a new test at Tantalilles, followed by a 49.9km extra test through Monte Lerno.

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In addition to bad roads, crews are expected to face variable weather, which will present an additional challenge.

When asked about the challenges of the Monte Lerno test, Evans added: If there is a problem there, the weekend is definitely over. it will be a challenge.

“Last year around this time everyone was panicking about the temperature in the cockpit, but now we have a 50km stage, so I think we are lucky with the weather.

Rally Sardinia starts tonight with a very special stage in the host city of Olbia.Hyundai’s Esapekka Lappi In today’s shakedown, he recorded the top time by 0.6 seconds over his teammate. Thierry NeuvilleOgier surpassed M-Sport’s 3rd place to take 3rd place. Pierre-Louis Roubet.

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