Super-Sub Sordo's Sardinian Success!

Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio won Rally Italia Sardegna in their Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC for the Shell Mobis World Rally Team, the second victory in a row for the Spaniard in the Italian round of the World Rally Championship promoted by Automobile Club d'Italia and supported by Regione Sardegna.

Second on podium 5.1 secs behind but completing a brilliant Hyundai 1-2 were teammates Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul, who snatched the position by one second from Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia Toyota Yaris WRC on the Power Stage that ended the rally.

Sordo took the lead after winning SS4 on Friday and then he was able to hold the position until Sunday with a perfect strategy and fast stage times. Ogier exerted lot of pressure on the Spanish driver and won six stages overall battling also with Neuville before being overtaken by the Belgian in the very last kilometers of the event.

WRC leader Elfyn Evans, co-driven by Scott Martin, finished fourth in their Toyota Yaris WRC, while Teemu Suninen and Jarmo Lehtinen Ford Fiesta WRC completed the top-5 after leading in the early stages thanks to their scratch position on SS1. Ott Tanak and Martin Jarveoja Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC, was sixth overall and winners of the final Power Stage following recovery after a suspension issue in the opening day.

Despite a post rally scrutineering scare when their i20 subframe was declared underweight, Sordo retained his rally win, but the Shell-Mobis Hyundai WRC rally team was fined for the non-compliance, which they blamed on a quality control issue at the Hyundai factory.

Based in Alghero, North-West of Sardinia, the sixth round of the 2020 World Rally Championship was held under Covid-19 control regulations and was the first Italian round in the 2020 calendar.

Top-10 Rally Italia Sardegna 2020.
1. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC) 2h41?37
2. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC) + 5
3 Ogier / Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC) +6
4 Evans / Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1.02
5. Suninen / Lehtinen (Fiesta WRC Ford) +1.33
6. Tanak / Jarveoja (Hyundai i20 Coupè WRC) +2.27
7. Loubet / Landais (Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC) +4.43
8. Huttunen / Lukka (Hyundai NG i20) +8.41
9. Kajetanowicz / Szczepaniak (Skoda Fabia Evo) +10.02
10. Tidemand / Barth (Skoda Fabia Evo) +10.20

2020 World Rally Drivers Championship
1. Elfyn Evans 97
2. Sebastien Ogier 79
3. Ott Tanak 70
4. Kalle Rovanpera 70
5. Thierry Neuville 65
6. Esapekka Lappi 38
7. Teemu Suninen 34
8. Craig Breen 25
9. Sebastien Loeb 24
10. Gus Greensmith 16

Teams Championship
1. Toyota Gazoo Yaris Racing 174
2. Hyundai Shell-Mobis 165
3. M-Sport Ford 101

12th October, 2020

2020 FIA Junior WRC Championship

The 2020 FIA Junior WRC Championship heads to the Italian island of Sardinia for round three, Rally d'Italia Sardegna, entering the second half of this year's championship.

The rally is the second and final gravel event of the season in FIA Junior WRC as the championship battle begins to tighten for the future stars of the FIA World Rally Championship. Martins Sesks leads the championship with 47 points following an assertive victory on Rally Estonia. Sami Pajari took a career best second in Estonia and ate into Sesks - points advantage by taking eight stage wins on the rally - the most of any FIA Junior WRC driver in Estonia. Rally Sweden winner and 2019 Rookie Award winner, Tom Kristensson, sits third with 29 points. He had his worst result to date in Estonia, taking only one stage win point and retired from the rally early on.

The trio will resume battle on the Italian gravel in their EcoBoost-powered M Sport Fiesta Rally4 cars. It is Pajari's first time in Sardinia with Sesks and Kristensson experiencing the rough Italian roads for the first time in 2019.

Usually, the rally can be summarised in three words: rough, hot and dusty. 2020 had better ideas though, following a reshuffled calendar, the event finds itself in October with much cooler temperatures ushering in a different challenge with higher wind speeds bringing very changeable and unpredictable weather.

The challenge of Rally d'Italia Sardegna is usually characterised by a continuously developing surface as the soft and sandy top surface covers a very hard and immovable bedrock. Should the heavens open the loose top surface will develop into a momentum killing, sludgy buildup pushed to either side of the road revealing a very slippery hard surface underneath.

Careful attention will be needed when it comes to writing pace notes with crews having to work hard when considering how corner speeds, braking points and grip levels will change with weather.

The chances of punctures are usually significantly higher on the island of Sardinia thanks to the unforgiving rocks that line its stages. Tyre changes are a simple but essential practice for crews and those well prepared could reap the rewards as rally could be won or lost on a simple tyre change.

The Pirelli tyres available for crews to choose form will be between 20 Scorpion K4 (hard) and 6 Scorpion K6 (soft) with a maximum of use of 20 tyres including shakedown. Tyre choice could prove pivotal depending on how stage conditions develop and will be at the forefront of each crew's mind should rain clouds appear.

6th October, 2020

FIA 2020 Junior WRC Championship

The final round of the 2020 FIA Junior WRC Championship will be held on the flat-out asphalt roads of Renties Ypres Rally Belgium from November 19-22, which is scheduled as the final round of the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship.

The Belgian classic, which has been running for 55 years, is expected to provide the perfect finale for the hugely competitive FIA Junior WRC Championship, with unpredictable and changeable weather on one of Europe's most challenging sealed surface rallies. Three gruelling days of fierce competition over 300 competitive kilometres await this year's crews, all in identical, Pirelli shod M-Sport Poland-built Ford Fiesta Rally4 cars.

The event will be made up of a series of tight asphalt roads lined by ditches that drivers will be keen to avoid, especially those fighting for the highly-coveted FIA Junior WRC Championship and a chance to win their own Ecoboost-powered Fiesta Rally2. The final leg of the rally promises a dramatic finish to the championship battle at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit, home to Formula One's Belgian Grand Prix, the 24 Hours of Spa endurance race and the Spa World Rallycross of Benelux for the second time in 2020.

Maciej Woda, FIA Junior WRC Team Director, said: "The FIA Junior WRC Championship always promises to take the future stars of WRC to some of the most iconic rallies on the calendar and an opportunity to sample every type of surface on the WRC calendar. Renties Ypres Rally Belgium is a, very special rally that has retained much of its character over the years and watching our crews navigate the tight and technical roads throughout West Flanders will be an exciting prospect. I am, happy for all of our competitors that we are able to deliver four rounds on this year's calendar, losing only one round from the original schedule.. As the asphalt event will be the final round of the championship, drivers that have competed in two rounds of the championship previously will see their classification points multiplied by 1.5. As always, drivers with who have competed on every round of the championship will be able to drop their worst score."

2nd October, 2020

Turkish Delight for Toyota & Evans!

Elfyn Evans secured a good win on Rally Turkey to climb back on top of the World Rally Championship drivers' standings after high drama in the hillsides around Marmaris. After taking a cautious approach throughout the most attritional event on the WRC calendar, the Welshman reaped his reward and a third career WRC victory and his first season driving for Toyota.

To reach the top step of the podium Evans first saw off Hyundai's Thierry Neuville and Toyota's Sebastien Ogier after a furious battle at the top of the order but both men picked up punctures on the first stage of the last day, as did the third-place man overnight, Hyundai's Sebastien Loeb.

But Evans' was patient and he emerged with a mighty 47 second advantage over the erstwhile leaders. Neuville overhauled Ogier into second and attempted to close the gap to Evans, then Ogier's Yaris WRC began emitting smoke and the six-time champion was out which elevated nine-time world champion Loeb back into the podium places in the second Hyundai.

In a display of gamesmanship, Ott Tanak restarted out of the points battle after steering failure on Saturday and the Estonian took a road penalty to push Ogier in front of him and then slotted into place in front of his two team-mates on the penultimate stage. After launching off the start with purpose, Tanak then parked and allowed both Neuville and Loeb through in front of him to minimize the number of rocks thrown in their path before gently motoring through to the end.

Tanak's focus was on the five bonus points available for winning the final Power Stage. Thus, equipped with just one spare tyre and running the softest rubber that he dared, Tanak set a blistering time of 4m20.8s to claim the five bonus points that might help to retain his 2019 drivers' crown.

Evans now holds an 18-point lead over Ogier with two rounds remaining on the Covid-affected calendar. Tanak's Power Stage points keep him level with Rovanpera in third, while Neuville's 23-point Turkish haul brings him back into contention a further five points adrift. Toyota remains at the top of the manufacturers' standings by nine points.

Rally Turkey Results

1. Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 2h 43m 02.7
2. Thierry Neuville/N.Gilsoul Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai + 35.2
3. Sebastien Loeb/D.Elena Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai + 59.4
4. Kalle Roveanpera/J.Halttunen Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT + 2m35.9
5. Gus Greensmith/E.Edmondson M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta + 4m08.3
6. Escapekka Lappi/J.Ferm M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta +5m.36.2

22nd September, 2020

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