12 May 08
Going on previous form in Sardinia Loeb starts the event as favourite. Following wins on the rally in 2005 and 2006, the Frenchman came close to making it three in a row in 2007 before rock damage forced his retirement on the final day.
This year, despite having won three of the five events run so far, Loeb trails Hirvonen by five points. And while a win in Sardinia wouldn't automatically put him in the championship lead again, on a personal level he's keen to notch up a record-breaking 40th WRC victory.
"Our misadventure in Jordan is behind us," said Loeb. "We were on top and looking good to extend our lead in the championship, and here we are now with a five-point deficit to make up. We will be looking to start bridging that gap in Sardinia and I am encouraged by the C4's competitiveness over a broad variety of terrains, as well as by the work put in to adapt it to its tyres." Click here to read more from Loeb: Sebastien's comments
Chris Atkinson is third in the drivers' championship, just two points behind Loeb. But despite four podiums finishes from the five rallies this year, Atkinson says a sixth in Sardinia is not a priority. "I hope we can have a good event and run competitively," said Atkinson. "I'm not thinking about another podium finish, but just concentrating on our pace and fighting as high up as we can." Click here to read what Chris said after the Jordan Rally: Chris Atkinson Q&A
Jari-Matti Latvala could be another driver to watch out for. He led the event until the middle of day one, at the time becoming the first Stobart team driver to lead a world championship rally. "For some drivers Sardinia is not a favourite but the island holds good memories for me," he said. "Before graduating to the WRC I drove two national rallies on the island on similar roads and last year here I led a world rally for the first time."
The rally also counts as round three of the 2008 J-WRC, and 17 competitors will be back in action after the last round in Jordan. Click here to read our J-WRC preview: J-WRC preview
For more details on the starters for Rally d'Italia Sardegna click here: Start list and nominations