The eight appointment of the World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar is taking place next weekend (13-16 June) in with Rally Italia Sardegna. The three leaders of the standings Sebastien Ogier, Ott Tänak and Thierry Neuville, apart by just ten points, are expected to put up a great fight in order to break away from each other.
The outcome of this rally will decide if current number one,the French of Citroën, keeps the head or on the contrary, this passes to the Estonian on Toyota, now second at just two points below number one. Neuville, third, hasn’t had a win in the last two races and he desperately needs one if he wants to keep up with the other two.
Hyundai and Neuville: Third time lucky?
Thierry Neuville and his team arrive in Rally Italia Sardegna in need of a victory. The Belgian must avoid at all costs being left behind in the battle for the title after two races without climbing to the top of the podium. After conquering Argentina, he had to retire in Chile following a serious accident and was second in Portugal. That zero in South America made him fall to third place, 10 points behind Ogier.
The Rally Italia Sardegna is one of the Belgian´s favourite appointments, so no better place to achieve his ambitions. He has demonstrated that he feels very comfortable on the Mediterranean island after winning there in 2016 and 2018.
He will be accompanied once more by Spaniard Dani Sordo, for whom this will be his second consecutive race. After the problems suffered in Portugal, Sordo is hoping for a good result in Mediterranean Island but he is well aware of the extreme difficulty of a race where he hasn’t set foot in the podium since 2007.
Andreas Mikkelsen completes Hyundai’s squad. The Norwegian driver, whose performance has recently been put into question, takes back the wheel of the South Korean missile in a rally where he has never finished within the top three.
Meanwhile, Hyundai’s boss Andrea Adamo is ramping up the pressure on his drivers with statements such as this: “We are entering the second half of the season and we cannot afford to have more weekends like Portugal. “
Citroën and Ogier to defend their leadership
Meanwhile, Citroën’s star, Sébastien Ogier, will face the Italian Rally with an eye on his closest pursuer, Tänak. Well aware that he is only two points behind, the six-tiem WTC champion mustn’t lose his nerve and continue to display the extraordinary regularity that has brought him to the top of the standings.
The driver from Gap, who has won at the island event in three occasions (2013-2015) will seek his seventh podium of the season. Esapekka Lappi will again sit at the wheel of the other C3 WRC. After his third zero of the year in the Portuguese event, the Finn will have to get his act together and produce some results in Sardinia.
Toyota and Tänak after the lead of the standings
Finally, Tänak and Toyota arrive at the Rally Italia Sardegna in great form. Their victories in Chile and Portugal have brought them to the second place in the standings. They are the rivals that everyone wants to beat and one of the great favourites of the weekend. The driver from Kärla is, in fact, the only one in the grid to have had three victories in the current championship.
Inside the other car will seat a very irregular Krees Meeke. The Briton will be eager to make amends after the mistake in the last special stage, which prevented Toyota from getting a 1-2. He still hasn’t had a podium this season despite his very competitive Yaris WRC. A luxury squire, Jari-Matti Latvala, completes the line-up of the Japanese team.
Finally, M-sport Ford will compete at the Rally Italia Sardegna with their usual Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen. Thanks to his two podiums in Mexico and Corsica, the Briton is now fourth in the standings. He has definitely earned himself the right to dream with another podium this weekend.