We reflect on Rally Italia Sardegna and how the leading drivers coped with the rocks and the heat of the island event in the first part of our summary.
Sébastien Ogier (Volkswagen Polo R) Result: 3rd
Mission: Return from Sardinia with an increased championship lead. Result: Achieved. Ogier knew he could not win as road opener for the first two legs and pronounced pre-event he would be happy with a podium. That’s exactly what he took and topped up his points tally with a live TV Power Stage win – despite overshooting a hairpin and having to reverse! Now he and wife Andrea are proud parents to baby Tim. Congratulations to all.
Eric Camilli (Ford Fiesta RS) Result: 6th
Outstanding drive from someone with so little experience of gravel driving. But for a broken differential on Friday, fourth would have been his. He claimed a maiden stage win and a string of top three times. The Frenchman also provided one of the moments of the rally when it looked as though he would win Saturday morning’s opener before being pipped by Kevin Abbring. His reaction in front of the TV cameras was one of pure amazement and delight.
Andreas Mikkelsen (Volkswagen Polo R) Result: 13th
Second on the road gave him slightly easier conditions than team-mate Ogier – but not much. He was in the thick of a three-car battle for third with the Frenchman and Mads Østberg when he clouted a rock and broke the front right track control arm on his Polo R on Saturday afternoon. He returned on Sunday with testing as his main objective and slipped behind Sordo in the points.
Dani Sordo (Hyundai i20) Result: 4th
Not sure too many people would have wagered their hard-earned money on Sordo being second in the points after six rounds. But he is – and deserves to be for his consistency at the wheel of the Hyundai i20. This was his fourth consecutive fourth place finish and he is racking up points admirably. Apart from a frisky rear end (the car, not Dani), his only problem was a sticking throttle on Saturday afternoon.
Henning Solberg (Ford Fiesta RS) Result: 7th
Don’t you just wish you could bottle Henning’s enthusiasm and listen to him when you’re feeling down in the dumps? A sticking throttle on Friday afternoon slightly dampened Henning’s ‘flat out’ manta, but he was up to sixth until a suspension problem and a charging Eric Camilli relegated him to seventh on Sunday morning. Not bad for someone who gets no chance for a pre-rally test before Thursday’s shakedown.
Martin Prokop (Ford Fiesta RS) Result: 11th
The Czech driver was pretty unhappy with life after starting with a five-minute penalty after breaking the seal on a rear differential to make repairs following the previous event in Portugal. Prokop felt badly treated and was out of sorts on Friday and Saturday before returning to his more jovial self by Sunday. Will now take a break from WRC to begin preparations for next year’s Dakar Rally, but hopes to fit in another event later in the year.