Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team  Rally Italia Sardegna preview

Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team Rally Italia Sardegna preview

06.06.2015: WRC Rallyes 2015 - RALLY ITALIA SARDEGNA (11-14/06/2015) With an extensively altered course, Rally Italia Sardegna serves

WRC Rallyes 2015 -    RALLY ITALIA SARDEGNA (11-14/06/2015)




    With an extensively altered course, Rally Italia Sardegna serves up a new challenge this season.

    Three DS 3 WRCs will line up at the start of this, the sixth round of the 2015 World Championship, driven by Mads Østberg/ Jonas Andersson, Kris Meeke/ Paul Nagle and Khalid Al Qassimi/ Chris Patterson.

    Competing in the WRC2 category, Stéphane Lefebvre and Stéphane Prévot will be making their competitive debut in a DS 3 RRC.




The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team lies second in the Manufacturers’ World Rally Championship a third of the way through the 2015 season. Following a podium finish in Mexico and an impressive one-two in Argentina, the DS 3 WRCs produced a solid performance in Portugal.


In Italy, Citroën Racing returns to a venue that proved to be a happy hunting ground for Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson in 2014. The Nordic crew had finished as runners-up at last year’s Rally Italia Sardegna, one of their best performances of the season.


The technical upgrades introduced prior to the Portugal round will provide an extra advantage on the daunting roads of Sardinia. With a set-up close to that which enabled Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg to grab stage wins in the Porto region, the DS 3 WRCs will be tackling some of the most demanding stages on the calendar.


On narrow, rough roads with plenty of exposed rocks, the drivers will need to manage their allocation of tyres in the high temperatures and throughout loops of up to 80 kilometres. The presence of dust, even more of a disadvantage than sweeping the road clear of loose gravel, may also play a key role during this incredibly tough event.


Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson are currently third in the World Championship, just ahead of Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle in fourth. Having competed in two rallies since the start of the season, Khalid Al Qassimi and Chris Patterson lie in twelfth position.


Stéphane Lefebvre and Stéphane Prévot continue their campaign in the FIA WRC2. Currently fourth in the category standings, they will be competing in a DS 3 RRC for the first time in Italy and will be aiming to collect a large haul of points. This will be an opportunity for the talented young Frenchman to move to the next level on his learning curve, ahead of his first outing in a DS 3 WRC in just over two months’ time.



QUOTE, UNQUOTE

Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal
): “The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team has extensive experience at Rally Italia Sardegna and this is one of the rounds at which our crews have excelled in the past. Mads was very fast and effective in finishing as runner-up in 2014.


 As regards Kris, this is one of the rallies he knows the best. The recent upgrades to the DS 3 WRC will provide an extra advantage here. The constraints of this demanding event should give our cars the opportunity to do well. The goal is to ensure both our DS 3 WRCs finish in good positions and secure as many points as possible for the championships just ahead of the half-way stage of the season.”




Mads Østberg:
“This is one of the rallies that I know the best and one where I have had some very good results in the past. The Sardinian route is fairly technical. There are a lot of changes in ground level and there are very few real landmarks.


You need to have very precise pace notes, suited to the conditions. The surface is pretty sandy and can be rough in places. The exposed rocks and the high temperatures mean that tyre wear can be very significant, so we’ll need to manage the tyres well. My aim is to produce the same kind of pace as in Mexico and Argentina, and fight at the front all the way to the finish.”



Kris Meeke: “
The route is fairly different for 2015. Although Rally Italia Sardegna is one the events I am most familiar with, I think it’s a very good thing that a lot of the stages are new this year. Everyone will start with new pace notes. This is one of the roughest rallies in the championship.


The roads are narrow with stones and exposed rocks just off the racing line. So, this event calls for very precise notes and very clean driving. Some sections are bit like a marathon. And the high temperatures are also going to add to the difficulties.


Since Mexico, we have shown that we are capable of consistently fighting at the front, so we need to keep up our good form. A podium finish would therefore be a perfect result.”


Khalid Al Qassimi:
“The character of Rally Italia Sardegna won’t be all that different to last year, even though the route has changed significantly. The roads are very difficult, especially the 42-kilometre Monte Lerno stage. There is no room for even the slightest error on these fast, narrow stages lined with rocks and bushes.


We are going to adopt the same strategy as in 2014. We’ll have to drive cautiously. This is equally one of the rallies where the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team has enjoyed the most success and I think Kris and Mads will manage to score as many points as possible.”




NEW ROUTE



More than half of the 2015 route is completely new. There is a new shakedown and a new opening day, with only sections of the route on Saturday’s leg and the Power Stage featuring familiar roads, either in the usual or opposite direction.


The shakedown will be held at Le Bombarde. It is scheduled to take place on Thursday morning between 7am and 11.30am. The rally will get underway at 7.30pm in Cagliari, the largest city on the island. Following a 2.5 kilometre super special stage on tarmac, the cars will remain in parc ferme on Via Roma.


The cars will head north on Friday morning with an early start time of 6.30am. The first section, featuring four new stages, will take the crews through Grighine Sud (26.40km), Grighine Nord (18.70km), Montiferru (14.90km) and Sagama (2.60km).


After a thirty-minute service period in Alghero, the competitors complete another pass on Sagama, then Sinis – Mont’e Prama before second runs on Grighine Sud, Grighine Nord and Montiferru before returning to Alghero at 9.25pm.


Parc ferme will be open at 6am on Saturday, ahead of a marathon day featuring some 212 kilometres of timed stages. At sunrise, Ittiri Arena (1.44km) will provide a short warm-up for the long Monti di Ala (22.50km), Coiluna – Loelle (36.70km) and Monte Lerno (42.20km) stages, the latter featuring a peak in excess of 1,000 metres above sea level, before the crews complete a run on Ippodromo di Ozieri (3.45km).


Following a thirty-minute service, the route will be rerun in the afternoon with high temperatures expected… The first car is due back in Alghero at 9.40pm.




Four stages are scheduled for Sunday’s leg, with no service period. The action kicks off at 7.30am with two passes on Olmedo Monte Baranta (11.00km), with an opening run on Cala Flumini (11.70km) sandwiched in between.


The second run on Cala Flumini 2 (SS24) will serve as the Power Stage and be broadcast live at 12.08pm, before the rally concludes with the podium ceremony, held at 1.45pm.






Marie-Pierre Rossi, Adrien da Cunha Belvès- photos Citroen

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/citroen-total-abu-dhabi-world-rally-team-italia-sardegna-preview---137167.html

06.06.2015 / MaP

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