The sixth round of the World Rally Championship represents a return to Europe after a string of three long-haul events in a row.
Sardinia lies in the Mediterranean sea between Spain and Italy, just 12 kilometres from the coast of Corsica, itself the scene for a World Rally encounter later in the season. As per previous years, the rally is based in the northern tip of the island, in the industrial port of Olbia on the Costa Smeralda coast.
The soft and almost sandy gravel roads wind through a combination of unspoiled green mountainsides that contrast with the sometime dusty and rocky routes of the lower regions. The traction and braking stability of the cars will be really tested by the loose surfaces that can cause the cars to wander as the road beneath them shifts. Eighty per cent of the local area is hilly, and while more rolling than mountainous, the stages steadily undulate.
Petter Solberg: “Sardinia is very tough as the surface is very soft and there are lots of ruts on the second passes. We’ve won there before, and I will go there pushing hard, but it is never an easy rally so we will just see. The team has been working hard since Jordan so I hope we will be able to go well there.”
Chris Atkinson: “It’s important to drive smoothly and without mistakes in Sardinia as the roads are very technical and narrow but it’s a rally I enjoy. It’s my fourth year here, and my second with Stéphane, so I hope we can have a good event and run competitively. I’m not thinking about another podium finish, but just concentrating on our pace and fighting as high up as we can.”