Perhaps it’s because of all the jockeying for position on the 2013 entry list, with drivers skulking about in the bushes behind the service area signing letters of intent and holding 3 a.m. meetings with team principals. We don’t know, but for some reason the 2012 Rallye Italia-Sardegna’s becoming a fender-bending event like nothing else so far this year.
Sébastien Loeb took the opportunity to hurl his DS3 at the scenery on the first stage of Day 2. Well, he’s the newly-crowned champion so he can celebrate however he likes, can’t he?
Jari-Matti Latvala then gave the Sardinian hedgerows something to think about when he uprooted some flora and fauna with his Fiesta on the very next stage. Perhaps he’s hoping that M-Sport and Ford will agree to let him test his new Volkswagen before the end of the year by showing them how much money can be saved from their repair bill.
As a result of all this shenanigans the second works Citroën of Mikko Hirvonen took a healthy lead on the event over the second works Ford of Petter Solberg, who immediately set about closing the gap… and crashed!
In the wake of Latvala’s announcement that he will be driving for Volkswagen next year, Solberg stated that he was ready to pick up where Latvala left off as Ford team leader. Clearly, this was meant literally.
With Mads Østberg hobbled in a front-wheel-drive Fiesta following another disagreement with the scenery, this has left Hirvonen with a sizeable advantage over young Russian prodigy Evgeny Novikov in his M-Sport Fiesta, with the second M-Sport car of Ott Tänak holding the final podium position at the end of Friday’s action.
More than a minute separates each of the top trio, so you could be forgiven for thinking that things look a little less than exciting for the remainder of the event. This would be the wrong conclusion, however…
Tyre wear is proving problematic for the 1.6-litre turbocharged WRC cars, but the Super 2000 Škodas of Volkswagen Motorsport are coping admirably. So much so, in fact, that Sébastien Ogier went fastest of all on SS5 and, with Tänak nursing a misfire, the feisty Frenchman is in with a sniff of a podium finish.
Now that really would make Sardinia a rally to remember!