Wednesday | 11 Jun 2014

Rally Italia Sardegna Driver report: part 1

Our Rally Italia Sardegna review kicks off with our first round-up of how the drivers performed on the island's rough gravel roads:

Jari-Matti Latvala (VW Polo R)

The Finn was holding off Sebastien Ogier at the top of the leaderboard for almost two days, but the pressure applied by his team-mate finally told on Saturday’s last stage. Latvala lost concentration for a split second, drifted off line and whacked the rear of his Polo R WRC on a rock. The right-rear wheel was damaged and he had to stop to change it. He had to settle for third place.

Kris Meeke (Citroen DS3)

Having scored a podium at Rally Argentina, Meeke travelled to Sardinia in a confident mood. He started sensibly and, without taking any risks, was nestling in ninth place after the first four stages. However, his hopes of moving up the leaderboard were dashed on the next stage when he lost all power thanks to an alternator problem. He rejoined under Rally 2 regulations and finished in 18th place.

Elfyn Evans (Ford Fiesta RS)

Before the rally, team boss Malcolm Wilson said he wanted the inexperienced Welshman to better the 6th place finish he scored 12 months earlier. Evans duly delivered by coming home 5th. Evans did a competent job in Sardinia, and although he inherited 5th when Robert Kubica retired on day two, he still needed to be on the Pole’s coat tails to capitalise.

Juho Hanninen (Hyundai i20)

Benefitting from a good road position, the Finn was doing a solid job on day one and sat only 2.9s behind team-mate and rally leader Thierry Neuville heading into SS5. However, he failed to make it out of SS5. He allowed his car to jump out of some ruts and it clipped a bank before rolling at high speed. He and co-driver Tomi Tuominen were okay but their i20 WRC was wrecked.

Martin Prokop (Ford Fiesta RS)

This was arguably the Czech privateer’s best performance in a WR Car. Although he was benefitting from a healthy road position on the first day, he showed some impressive speed to run as high as third overall after the opening five stages. He slipped down the order when road positions changed on the second and third days, but he still managed to finish 6th overall.

Khalid Al-Qassimi (Citroen DS3)

The UAE driver found the going tough in Sardinia. He spent the early part of the rally battling with the set-up of his DS3 WRC, before a couple of spins in the first run through the 59km Monte Lerno stage prompted him to take the set-up in a different direction. It proved to be a good move and he eventually completed the rally in 10th place.

Hayden Paddon (Hyundai i20)

This was the Kiwi’s maiden rally with the Hyundai squad and his goal was to do a solid job and take as much experience away from the event as possible. He bedded himself in nicely and filled 8th place driving into Saturday’s last stage. But the engine in his i20 WRC developed a terminal misfire after a water splash on the stage and he was forced out. Rejoined on the final day under Rally 2 and finished 12th.

Don't forget to check back tomorrow to read the second part of our driver report from Rally Italia Sardegna.