Rally Sardina 2007 Preview.
The seventh round of the FIA world championship is rally Sardinia. After the dramas of rally Argentina, the teams only had a week to prepare for the fourth gravel rally of the 2007 season.

The Italian round takes place on the Mediterranean Island of Sardinia and the rally is based in the port of Olbia on the picturesque Costa Smeralda. The WRC will have to tackle some of the most demanding roads in the WRC championship with some technical, narrow sections featuring a hard packed base covered with a layer of fine sandy gravel. This will make it a disadvantage for any of the drivers running the first on the road, since they must sweep the track, and in Sebastian Loeb’s case he will have to push harder from the start to compensate.

The French man will want to consolidate his position at the head of the championship table ahead of BP- Fordís Marcus Gronholm. If Loeb wins his rally it will make it to his fourth consecutive victory of THE SEASON and his 33rd win of his world rally career.

Sebastien LoebSource of Picture.


Gronholm is expected to be the main opposition to the Citroen driver Loeb. Like many of his rivals the Finn will be unfamiliar with some of the stages the organisers have added this year, 52 per cent of the stages are new, but the stages will be similar to those used by BP-Ford, when they tested on the island.

The team has made a few set up changes to the focus RS world rally car after Argentina to help Gronholm who needs to improve on last year’s retirement.

Gronholm’s team mate Mikko Hirvonen is third in the drivers standings and is trailing Gronholm by nine points. Hirvonen will want to improve his speed and collect as many points as possible. Hirvonen succeeded in scoring his first podium with BP-Ford last year on this event and will be hoping for a similar if not better result this year.

Citron’s Dani Sordo is currently fourth in the standings, Sordo is claiming that he is improving his relationship with the C4 on each rally. Sordo finished on the podium here last year and showed an impressive pace in rally Argentina and where he ran as high as fourth before mechanical problems occurred. The target for the former junior champion will be to collect as many points as possible for his team.

Dani SordoSource of Picture.


Despite Petter Solberg latest misfortunes he still hasn’t lost hope of getting back on top of the podium, and will be aiming for the win. Sardinia is a rally he has won before and on which he feels comfortable. After some testing last weekend on this island, the Norwegian, who is currently fifth in the standings, will leave bad rallying behind him and push the Impreza 07 to its limits.

Brother Henning Solberg is behind Petter in the standings, the 34 year old driver is now starting to feel more comfortable in the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team Ford focus RS WRC06. After his impressive pace in Argentina where he climbed from nine to fifth, Henning he is aiming to become one of the top podium contenders in the very near future.

Henning Solberg’s teammate Jari-Matti Latvala, is next in the championship table, he will really want to show his speed on a surface that is so familiar to him. At the age of 18, the Finn competed in seven rounds of Italian Subaru cup, gaining experience of most of the Italian surfaces. Latvala has won points in the last four rounds of the season and had a good result here in 2005 with the group N car; Latvala will definitely be the one to watch out for this weekend.

Subaru’s Chris Atkinson will be competing for the second time with his new co-driver Stephane Prevot. However, Stephane is not new to the Italian round of the championship as he has contested 12 times in the past. Atkinson has shown pace here during the last two years and has climbed as high as third overall, winning one stage time along the way, in 2006. In the 2007 rally, the Australian driver will again give it his best, as he gets to grips with the Impreza and his new co-driver.

Chris AtkinsonSource of Picture.


Both drivers from OMV Kronos Citroen World Rally Team, Manfred Stohl and Daniel Carlsson, will compete this weekend in Citroen Xsaras. Stohl has admitted scoring points is becoming more and more difficult because of the big differences between works and private cars. The Austrian however will continue to do business as usual, joined by Carlsson who after his Argentina break is competing in his fourth round of the season with the team. The Swedish driver will start rally Sardinia for the second time in his career since he previously entered in 2005.

Making his first time appearance in a World Rally Car this weekend will be Argentine Federico Villagra who replaces Juan Pablo Raies in the Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team. He will now permanently replace Juan Pablo Raies for the rest of the season; this is due to Villagra’s victory in P-WRC in Argentina a week ago. Villagra will join Luis Perez Companc in the squad and will be in charge of the second Focus RS WRC06, with Companc’s brother, Jorge as his co-driver. The newcomer will want to gain as much experience as possible and more importantly finish the rally.

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