M-Sport drivers Elfyn Evans and Ott Tänak have been given an extra opportunity to prepare for Rally Italia Sardegna (11 - 14 June) at a pre-event development test on the island.
Sardinia marks only the second WRC appearance for M-Sport's latest evolution of the Ford Fiesta RS, and both drivers were given extra seat-time to experiment with set-up and tyre configurations earlier this week.
Evans chose not to return to the UK before the rally, and instead spent the week in Sardinia acclimatising to the Mediterranean summer and to temperatures that are forecast to reach 32ºC in rally week.
The Welshman has fond memories of Sardinia having made his world rally car debut on the rally in 2013, when he finished an impressive sixth as an 11th hour substitute for Nasser Al-Attiyah. In 2014 he went one better to finish fifth.
"It’s a difficult rally, but one that I really enjoy so I’m looking forward to it," Evans said. "It’s a challenge for driver and car alike, but the team made a great debut with the new car in Portugal so there’s certainly potential for a strong result."
Tänak too has had his share of Sardinian success, having secured his maiden WRC podium on the island in 2012 and S-WRC victory there in 2011. This time, three weeks after finishing fifth in Portugal, the Estonian is targeting another podium.
“We just need to go out there and enjoy it, and with this new car it really is so easy to enjoy the driving," he said. "We need to have a good recce and then just see what the feeling is like. If it’s good, we can push a bit more and I certainly want to equal if not better our result from Portugal. We just need to get the confidence and keep it up.”