Tuesday | 07 Jun 2016

Evans’ absence opens WRC 2 door to rivals

A cluster of drivers have the opportunity to raise the pressure on absent WRC 2 championship leader Elfyn Evans at this week’s Rally Italia Sardegna (9 - 12 June).

Evans has not listed the tough gravel event as a scoring round, opening the door for his rivals to enhance their title credentials on the narrow rough-road tracks of the Mediterranean island where avoiding the rocks will be key to a good result.

Best placed are Peru’s Nicolas Fuchs (Skoda Fabia R5) and Poland’s Hubert Ptaszek (Peugeot 208 T16) who can unseat Evans from top spot. Fuchs (above) lies second, seven points behind the Welshman, and is on good form having won in Argentina and taken second in Portugal last month.

Ptaszek (below) is fourth, 20 points off the lead, with second place finishes in Mexico and Argentina to his name.

Fifth-placed Armin Kremer (Fabia R5) returns to action for the first time since Mexico in March, while Finn Teemu Suninen (Fabia R5), who won the north American round, looks to put a disappointing result in Portugal behind him.

Marius Aasen (Ford Fiesta R5) aims to build on an excellent podium in Portugal while other top 10 championship contenders are French duo Yoann Bonato and Quentin Gilbert (both DS 3 R5s) and Esapekka Lappi (Fabia R5).

Finn Lappi has started just one round so far, finishing third in Sweden, but is many people’s favourite for a Sardinia win. “The motto is drive quickly and don’t make any mistakes. Our aim is definitely to be battling for the win,” he said.

Lappi is joined by Skoda Motorsport team-mate Jan Kopecký, who must adapt quickly to the rock-strewn tracks after winning the asphalt Rally Český Krumlov in the Czech Championship last month.

Also worth keeping an eye on is former category winner Karl Kruuda (Fiesta R5), who replaces Sander Pärn in the Drive DMACK Trophy squad for the first of three outings.

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