WRC Rally Sardinia (Italy) 18-21 Oct talk/results spoiler**
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    Cool WRC Rally Sardinia (Italy) 18-21 Oct talk/results spoiler**

    Next Round 12
    Rally d'Italia Sardegna(Sardinia)18 - 21 Oct 12




    A founding round of the World Rally Championship in 1973, Italy’s WRC qualifier has always been one of the highlights of the season with challenging stages and throngs of enthusiastic fans commonplace.

    Up until 2004 the rally was based in the Italian Riviera town of Sanremo on the shoreline of the Mediterranean Sea. Stages took place on the narrow and tricky mountain roads of Italy’s Liguria province with the route also extending into Tuscany for a series of runs on gravel to increase the spectacle further.

    In 2004 the rally switched to picturesque Sardinia and to a new base in the port town of Olbia in the north of the island. While the route was all new, the event didn’t lose any of its appeal, attracting competitors and spectators in great number.

    The stages in Sardinia are characterised by their challenging and varied nature. Although they are predominantly fast and narrow, the terrain is a mixture of flat open areas and undulating tracks through woodland with water splashes and spectacular jumps thrown in for good measure.

    Official Website: rallyitaliasardegna.com/

    Listen Live: worldrallyradio.com/

    Watch Speed TV(USA): speedtv.com//filter/program/wrc


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    Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala was fastest this morning in the qualifying stage for Rally Italia Sardegna.

    Latvala completed the 3.75 kilometre Telti test in 2 minutes 26.4 seconds, which put him 1.024 seconds up on his team-mate, Petter Solberg, who was 'best of the rest' in the sister works Fiesta RS WRC car.

    Latvala will now get first choice of start position for today's opening two stages.

    Sebastien Loeb meanwhile was third quickest for Citroen, 1.307 seconds off the pace, while Evgeny Novikov came in fourth in his M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC, followed by Mikko Hirvonen, Ott Tanak and Mads Ostberg.

    Chris Atkinson was eighth for the WRC MINI Team Portugal outfit ahead of Martin Prokop and Thierry Neuville.

    Paulo Nobre failed to set a time after crashing out in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC car. It has yet to be confirmed if he will be able to start.

    Drivers will now select their start positions in a few hours time.

    Rally Italia Sardegna then gets underway with two runs through the 28.14 km Terranova test, with the first due to start at 16.13 hours local time (15.13 hours UK time). SS2 is scheduled to start at 18.16 hours local time (17.16 hours UK time).



    Rally Italia Sardegna: Qualifying stage:

    1. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC 2m 26.4s M
    2. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +1.024s M
    3. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +1.307 M
    4. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +1.516s M
    5. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +1.606s M
    6. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +1.989s M
    7. Mads Ostberg Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC +2.250s M
    8. Chris Atkinson Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC +2.777sM
    9. Martin Prokop Ford Fiesta RS WRC +5.706s
    10. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC +7.247s M

    Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC No time - crashed

    all times unofficial

    click: crash.net/wrc/news/185217

    ----------------------------

    Start order for Rally Italia has been selected and will run as follows:

    1. Jari-Matti Latvala
    2. Ott Tänak
    3. Petter Solberg
    4. Evgeny Novikov
    5. Sébastien Loeb
    6. Mikko Hirvonen
    7. Mads Østberg
    8. Chris Atkinson
    9. Martin Prokop
    10. Thierry Neuville
    11. Luca Pedresoli
    12. Pablo Nobre



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    SS1: Loeb fastest

    Sebastien Loeb has gone fastest on the opening stage of Rally Italia Sardegna to take an early lead on the penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

    Running fifth on the road in his Citroen DS3 WRC, Loeb, who clinched his ninth world crown on the previous round in France, was 1.4s quicker than team-mate Mikko Hirvonen.

    Jari-Matti Latvala, who elected to start first on the road in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC, was fifth quickest, 15.3s down on Loeb. He said: “I was hoping to lose no more than 10s but the main thing is to look overall at the two stages, not just the first stage. We have taken a risk and now we will see how it works.”

    Petter Solberg was third best in his works Fiesta. Mads Ostberg had been fastest through the opening three timing splits but slipped back nearing the end of the run. He was fourth quickest in his Adapta Fiesta, 1.2s down on fellow Norwegian Solberg.

    Ott Tanak reported losing time by running on hard compound tyres with all key rivals opting for soft compound rubber.

    click: wrc.com/news/italy ss1



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    SS2: Hirvonen closes on Loeb with stage win



    Mikko Hirvonen has trimmed Sebastien Loeb’s lead on Rally Italia Sardegna to 1.1s by winning stage two of the FIA World Rally Championship qualifier.

    Hirvonen was 0.3s faster than Citroen team leader and nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb through the second run of the Terranova stage, which took place in warm and dry conditions albeit in fading light.

    Petter Solberg was the fastest Ford driver in third after reporting his decision not to run with an auxiliary lightpod had cost him valuable seconds after the stage start was delayed by eight minutes. However, he fared far better than team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala. The Finn dropped back when he broke a front-left wheel 10 kilometres into the stage, which resulted in a total loss of air from the tyre. He was 27.1s slower than stage winner Hirvonen as a result.

    Latvala had gambled by running first on the road in the hope that he would enjoy better daylight and less hanging dust than his rivals but the decision appears to have backfired with a 42.1s overnight deficit to Loeb.

    Ott Tanak lost more ground on his hard-compound tyres, while Mads Ostberg discovered his Fiesta had suffered a broken cross member when he reached the stage finish. But there were no such problems for Thierry Neuville who climbed from sixth to fourth by going fourth fastest.

    Crews will now make the 51.37-kilometre journey to Olbia for the 45-minute service halt at the town’s Isola Bianca cruise liner terminal.

    click: wrc.com/news/italy ss2




    --------------------------------

    Thursday wrap:



    A thrilling battle is in store on day two of Rally Italia Sardegna after Sebastien Loeb completed Thursday's pair of stages leading Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen by a tight margin of 1.1s.

    Loeb, who clinched his ninth FIA World Rally Championship crown on the previous round in France, was fastest on the first run through the 28.14-kilometre Terranova test south of the event base in Olbia. However, he was unable to prevent Hirvonen from going quicker when the stage was repeated in fading light this evening.

    “It’s a great battle with Mikko and I was having to push really hard in the stage,” said Loeb. “But it was okay because the car was working well. I knew from the recce the stage was not as dry as in previous years so there was not so much dust.”

    The fear of dust had prompted Jari-Matti Latvala to opt to run at the head of the field after the Finn topped the Qualifying Stage times this morning. The Ford pilot reasoned that time lost cleaning the road of the loose surface gravel on stage one would be cancelled out when the stage was repeated due to the fading light and likelihood of dust restricting vision. While it was virtually dark by the time Loeb and Hirvonen - running fifth and sixth on the road respectively - completed the test, there was limited hanging dust.

    However, a broken front-left wheel, caused by striking a chunk of bedrock 10 kilometres into stage two, was of more concern to Latvala, who is 42.1s behind leader Loeb in sixth overall.

    Petter Solberg is the leading Ford driver in third, although the Norwegian said that his decision not to run with an auxiliary lightpod on stage two had cost him valuable seconds after the stage start was delayed by eight minutes.

    With no split times being fed into his Qatar World Rally Team Citroen, Thierry Neuville admitted it was hard to judge his pace on the first stage. But the fourth fastest time on stage two enabled him to climb from sixth to fourth.

    Mads Ostberg was fastest after the opening three splits of stage one but contact with a stone and a spin left him with bent steering and a time loss in his Adapta Fiesta. He completed stage two with a broken cross member in fifth.

    Chris Atkinson suggested a rear handling imbalance had prevented him from pushing on the opening stage in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC. He’s eighth overnight and planning set-up changes in an effort to catch Evgeny Novikov, who holds seventh for the M-Sport Ford team.

    Ott Tanak put his substantial time loss down to his decision to run on hard compound tyres when all of his rivals with the exception of Martin Prokop, opted for the soft compound option. Prokop, meanwhile, reported significant brake wear after the first stage and a strange noise from the rear of his Fiesta on the second run.

    Andreas Mikkelsen moved ahead of Volkswagen Motorsport team-mate Sebastien Ogier on stage two after the Frenchman picked up a rear puncture. Luca Pedersoli is 14th on his first run in a Citroen DS3 WRC with Brazilian Paulo Nobre one place behind in his MINI.

    Friday’s route covers six stages over a competitive distance of 117.36 kilometres with the action getting underway with the 29.68-kilometre Monte Lerno test at 08:43hrs local time.

    click: wrc.com/thursday wrap



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    SS3: Loeb out, Hirvonen leads

    The drama continues on Rally Italia Sardegna with Sebastien Loeb crashing out and Mikko Hirvonen shooting into the lead in the second factory Citroen.

    Hirvonen started day two 1.1s behind the nine-time world champion but moved in front when Loeb went off the road after approximately five kilometres. The Finn, who was 2.8s faster than Petter Solberg through the stage, now leads the Norwegian in the overall classification by 15.6s heading to stage four, Castelsardo, which goes live at 11:34hrs local time.

    “It was only the beginning of the fight so I don’t think it was any pressure from me [that Loeb went off],” said Hirvonen. “I lost a bit the rhythm when I heard and was on the brakes too much. It’s a shame but I was happy with my time.”

    Solberg, meanwhile, reckoned he could have been quicker but for time lost passing Thierry Neuville’s Citroen, which was momentarily stranded when the young Belgian rolled 25.4s into the stage. Neuville hurt his right hand as he and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul got their DS3 WRC back onto its wheels. The Qatar World Rally Team driver was fourth overall starting the stage but his time delay of more than six minutes drops him out of the top 10.

    Mads Ostberg has moved into third overall in his Adapta Fiesta with Jari-Matti Latvala, who was third quickest, up to fourth in his factory Fiesta.

    Italy’s sole World Rally Car representative, Luca Pedersoli, lost 40s when he went off the road in his Citroen. The 41-year-old, taking part on his first gravel rally for more than a year, blamed his mistake on an incorrect pace note. Meanwhile, Martin Prokop reported a big spin in his privateer Fiesta.

    Marcos Ligato has taken the lead of the Production Car World Rally Championship section after Nicolas Fuchs dropped back with a loss of brakes.

    click: wrc.com/italy ss3




    ---------------------

    SS4: Latvala crashes out



    Ford’s hopes of victory on Rally Italia Sardegna now rest with Petter Solberg after his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala failed to make it through stage four of the FIA World Rally Championship counter.

    Latvala, who was fourth starting the stage, struck a bank in a high-speed right-hander. The impact burst his Ford Fiesta RS WRC’s radiator and although the Finn tried to carry on he went off again and stopped.

    “I took a little bit careful after what happened to Jari,” Solberg said after setting a time of 10m46.1s, which was 0.2s slower than stage winner Mikko Hirvonen, who extends his overall advantage to 15.8s in his factory Citroen.

    “It’s such a difficult stage so I tried to take it steady and follow Petter’s split times and it worked out okay,” said Hirvonen. “There is no problem with the car, everything is working fine.”

    Evgeny Novikov impressed with the third quickest time, 2.5s down on Hirvonen with Mads Ostberg reporting a possible problem with the right rear of his Adapta Fiesta after going fourth quickest.

    Martin Prokop lost time when he spun and briefly got stuck between two rocks, stalling his Fiesta’s engine in the process. He was 45.2s off Hirvonen’s pace.

    Andreas Mikkelsen reported getting stuck in a ditch for a few seconds in his Volkswagen Motorsport Skoda. As a result he has slipped behind team-mate Sebastien Ogier to eighth place in the overall standings.

    click: wrc.com/italy ss4



    ---------------------

    SS5: Ogier stuns with stage best

    Sebastien Ogier has made history by winning stage five of Rally Italia Sardegna in his Super 2000-specification Skoda Fabia, which puts out less power and is less sophisticated than the pacesetting World Rally Cars.

    Ogier, who is spending 2012 readying Volkswagen Motorsport’s Polo R WRC for its world championship debut next season alongside a programme of rallies in an S2000 Fabia, was 7.0s faster than Evgeny Novikov in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

    Although Andreas Mikkelsen scored a Power Stage point when he was third fastest on ADAC Rallye Deutschland’s closing stage in his Fabia S2000, Ogier’s performance marked the first stage win by a Super 2000 car in the WRC.

    Ogier said: “For sure this stage is very hard for the tyres and in the Super 2000 you save a little bit more although this was a hard stage for us as well. I am happy and it’s good but I have to be realistic because of the conditions.”

    Despite going 5.5s slower than Novikov, Mikko Hirvonen has extended his lead of the FIA World Rally Championship counter to 25.8s over factory Ford pilot Petter Solberg. Hirvonen, in a Citroen DS3 WRC, admitted that he had adopted a cautious approach to conserve his soft-compound tyres, which had become badly worn in the warm and dry conditions. “There were no mistakes, just a mistake with the choice of tyres,” said Finn Hirvonen, who was 10s quicker than Solberg, who also reported excessive tyre wear.

    Crews are now making their way to the remote service halt in Sassari. Stage six, the repeat of Castelsardo, goes live at 14:46hrs local time.

    click: wrc.com/italy ss5





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    SS6: Novikov closes on third with stage win



    Evgeny Novikov has trimmed Mads Ostberg’s advantage in the battle for third place on Rally Italia Sardegna by claiming his first stage victory in the FIA World Rally Championship since the Acropolis Rally in 2009.

    Novikov is now 4.8s behind Ostberg after the Russian went 2.5s quicker than his Norwegian rival, who suggested a possible driveshaft fault on his Adapta Fiesta. Meanwhile, Novikov’s team-mate Ott Tanak reported a “really big hit” nearing the stage finish in his M-Sport Fiesta.

    Factory Ford pilot Petter Solberg said at the stage finish that he wasn’t entirely happy with his tyre pressures. Nevertheless has taken a few seconds out of leader Mikko Hirvonen, whose margin out front stands at 23.4s.

    “All the Fords seem to be fast in this stage so I need to speed up,” said Citroen driver Hirvonen. “It’s never good when [Solberg] is taking time out of me but the next stage is more fast and flowing and it should be better for me.”

    Chris Atkinson said his confidence was improving behind the wheel of his MINI John Cooper Works WRC but added that more work is needed to get closer to the pace.

    click: wrc.com/italy ss6



    --------------------

    SS7: Solberg out, Novikov into second

    Another contender for Rally Italia Sardegna glory is out with Petter Solberg failing to get beyond the 12.75-kilometre mark in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

    Solberg, who was second overall behind Mikko Hirvonen starting the run, is reported to have taken the front-left corner off his car. His woe means Hirvonen leads the FIA World Rally Championship round by more than one minute with one stage of day two remaining.

    “They are dropping like flies, I must make sure I don’t do any mistakes because there is still a long way to go,” said Citroen DS3 WRC driver Hirvonen. “I have to stay focused.”

    Evgeny Novikov recorded his second fastest stage time in succession to climb into the runner-up spot. “I’m happy with everything, everything is fine,” said the Russian. “I didn’t think about the tyres, I just went flat.”

    Ostberg, meanwhile, is nursing a rear differential problem in his Adapta Fiesta, which is running in front-wheel-drive mode only. “I we will try to get through the last stage but I don’t know if it will be possible, we will see,” said the dejected Norwegian, who slips to fourth behind Ott Tanak, who suggested a possible engine problem on his M-Sport Fiesta. The issue had plagued him on road sections but the Estonian fears the power glitch is now affecting him on the stages too.

    Chris Atkinson spun and stalled his MINI John Cooper Works WRC, losing valuable time and dropping behind Volkswagen Motorsport’s Sebastien Ogier in the process. Martin Prokop was late starting the stage after encountering brake problems on the preceding road section. The Czech also reported engine issues at the stage finish.

    click: wrc.com/italy ss7



    --------------------

    SS8: Ostberg happy after going slowly



    Mads Ostberg was thrilled at the finish of stage eight of Rally Italia Sardegna despite taking more than two minutes longer than stage winner and event leader Mikko Hirvonen to complete the run.

    Ostberg is being slowed by a broken rear differential, which has dropped his Adapta World Rally Team Fiesta RS WRC onto front-wheel-drive mode only and resulted in the Norwegian slipping from fourth to seventh place in the overall classification.

    “I did the perfect stage considering the problems I am having,” said Ostberg, who was 2m21.9s slower than Hirvonen through the 29.68-kilometre Monte Lerno test. “I did my best and I am very happy because this car is not designed to be front-wheel drive.”

    With Ostberg dropping back, Volkswagen Motorsport’s Sebastien Ogier climbs to fourth in his Super 2000-specification Skoda Fabia with Chris Atkinson up to fifth for WRC Team MINI Portugal.

    Luca Pedersoli twice went off the road in his privateer Citroen and lost two minutes, while Paulo Nobre reported a rising engine temperature following a heavy landing after the famous Micky’s Jump. Nobre left the stage finish but stopped shortly afterwards amid fears he won’t be able to make it back to service in Olbia.

    Martin Prokop dropped more than one minute when he finished the stage with a front-left puncture.

    click: wrc.com/italy ss8




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    Friday wrap:



    Mikko Hirvonen is on course for victory on Rally Italia Sardegna following a day of high drama as two world champions retired while a Super 2000 car won a stage outright for the first time.

    Finn Hirvonen began Friday’s opening Monte Lerno test trailing Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb by 1.1s but was leading at the finish when Loeb failed to make it through the 29.68-kilometre run after breaking his DS3 WRC’s steering striking a rock on a corner he admitted he had taken too quickly.

    Petter Solberg, in a factory Ford Fiesta RS WRC, inherited second and was trying to narrow Hirvonen’s advantage when he crashed on stage seven, handing the runner-up spot to Evgeny Novikov, who set two fastest stage times in his M-Sport Fiesta. The Russian is 1m09.6s adrift of Hirvonen starting Saturday’s stages.

    “I’ve managed to come through with no problems or mistakes,” said Hirvonen who has yet to win a WRC round in 2012. “It’s difficult to keep the rhythm but everything is fine. I need to be careful because there is a long way to go and lots of rocks to hit.”

    Novikov, who was fastest on stages six and seven, said: “It’s been a very good day, it was a bit slippery in the morning but in the afternoon it was fine. Now I have to stay concentrated to keep this position.”

    Ott Tanak is third but suggested he could have been closer to the pace had is decision to run on hard compound tyres on Thursday not slowed him down and resulted in him running in a less favourable third on the road today. The Estonian is 1m08.7s behind M-Sport team-mate Novikov.

    Sebastien Ogier is a shock fourth overall in his Volkswagen Motorsport-prepared Skoda Fabia Super 2000 following his fastest time on stage five, which he put down to his car’s soft compound tyres being less worn than those of the faster World Rally Cars.

    Chris Atkinson is fifth for WRC Team MINI Portugal but eager to improve the handling of his John Cooper Works WRC. Andreas Mikkelsen is sixth in the second Volkswagen-run Fabia but it’s been a day of frustration for his fellow Norwegian Mads Ostberg. The Adapta Fiesta driver should have been in contention for a podium finish but a broken rear differential dropped him into front-wheel drive and down into seventh place.

    Martin Prokop is eighth after encountering myriad problems during the day, including a front-left puncture on the final stage. Karl Kruuda is a strong ninth with Solberg classified in 10th. Luca Pedersoli overcame a handful of off-road moments to complete day two in 11th. WRC Team MINI Portugal’s Paulo Nobre is 14th but will incur time penalties after he failed to return to final service due to an engine overheating issue. Jari-Matti Latvala was fourth after three stages in his works Fiesta but crashed out on the very next run.

    Saturday’s itinerary consists of six stages with 115.92 timed kilometres in store. The first stage, Coiluna-Loelle, goes live at 09:28hrs local time.

    click: wrc.com/friday wrap


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    Saturday

    SS9: Ostberg's fight back is go!




    Mads Ostberg’s bid to fight back to fourth place on Rally Italia Sardegna is on track after he set the pace through Saturday’s first test. Despite struggling for grip running on hard compound tyres, Ostberg was 14.1s faster than event leader Mikko Hirvonen and moves into sixth overall

    Ostberg, who was delayed on Friday afternoon with a broken rear differential on his Adapta Fiesta, started day three in seventh place and more than one minute adrift of his target position of fourth, which is currently occupied by Volkswagen Motorsport’s Sebastien Ogier in a Super 2000-specification Skoda Fabia.

    Meanwhile, Hirvonen, who has extended his lead to 1m17.2s over Evgeny Novikov, said he was extremely cautious, adding that he “hated” driving to avoid rocks on the road.

    After clocking the third fastest time 5.4s down on Ostberg, Ott Tanak suggested a possible electronic issue at the stage finish. The M-Sport Fiesta driver holds third overall behind team-mate Novikov.

    Several drivers restarted under Rally 2 rules following their exists on Friday with factory Ford pair Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg both back in action. However, neither was going flat out in order to secure manufacturers’ championship points for the Blue Oval, although Latvala was second fastest, 2.3s down on Ostberg.

    Thierry Neuville, who has also restarted under Rally 2, reported a lot of movement in his Citroen on soft-compound tyres, which he said had overheated at the stage finish. He also said he was experiencing some pain from the second-degree burns he suffered to his hands pushing his car back onto four wheels when he rolled on Friday.

    Luca Pedersoli admitted he’s finding it hard running second on the road on a rare outing on gravel and his first start in a Citroen DS3 WRC. Meanwhile, Martin Prokop lost time when he got stuck momentarily after spinning.

    Paulo Nobre is back in action after retiring on the road section heading to final service last night with an overheating engine. The Brazilian MINI driver, who is running first on the road on day three, started the day in 22nd overall as a result of the 10-minute time penalty he incurred.

    click: wrc.com/italy ss9



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    SS10: Hat-trick for Novikov



    Evgeny Novikov has set his third fastest time on Rally Italia Sardegna but his pace through Saturday’s second test has done little to erode Mikko Hirvonen’s advantage in the battle for victory on the penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

    Novikov, in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC, was fastest by 1.2s but trails his Finnish rival, in a Citroen DS3 WRC, by 1m10.6s. “Everything is fine and I am satisfied,” said Russian Novikov. “Now I just have to keep going and take no risks. Everything is okay.”

    Hirvonen reported no problems after setting the fifth best time, 6.6s down on Novikov.

    Chris Atkinson said the rear of his MINI John Cooper Works WRC was sliding too much. Nevertheless he is now 4.4s behind Sebastien Ogier in the battle for fourth, albeit coming under increasing pressure from Mads Ostberg. The Norwegian, who was second fastest, is now 23.0s behind Australian Atkinson with one stage of Saturday’s opening loop of runs remaining. Ogier, meanwhile, is bemoaning his decision to fit a long-ratio gearbox to his Volkswagen Motorsport-run Skoda Fabia Super 2000.

    Martin Prokop’s difficult Rally Italia Sardegna continued when he picked up a front-right puncture. The Czech drove for four kilometres with the deflation but was unsure how it had occurred.

    Nicolas Fuchs continues to lead the Production Car World Rally Championship division despite picking up a front-right puncture. Indonesia’s Subhan Aksa was quickest in the class.

    click: wrc.con/italy ss10



    ---------------------

    SS11: Ostberg closes on fourth



    Mads Ostberg is now 11.2s behind Chris Atkinson in what is now a three-way battle for fourth place on Rally Italia Sardegna.

    Ostberg, driving for the Adapta World Rally Team, was 11.8s quicker through the stage than WRC Team MINI Portugal’s Atkinson. They have both edged closer to Volkswagen Motorsport’s Sebastien Ogier, who said his decision to fit a long-ratio gearbox to his Super 2000-specification Skoda Fabia has affected his outright speed.

    “All the stages have been quite strong this morning,” said Ostberg, who was quickest on the stage in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC. “It’s been quite tricky on hard tyres but we’ve pushed hard and really enjoyed it.”

    Atkinson, who is now 3.3s behind fourth-placed Ogier, said: “I’m trying everything I can but we’ve already had some moments so you start to worry.”

    Following his exit on Friday, Jari-Matti Latvala is spending today experimenting with different settings on his works Fiesta in preparation for the gravel leg of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana next month. “I’m trying to get the feeling for Spain and the confidence on gravel,” said Latvala, who was second fastest, 3.7s down on Ostberg.

    Out front, Mikko Hirvonen has grown his lead to 1m18.7s after going third quickest in his Citroen DS3 WRC. “For sure I can just take it steady without having to push but it’s not easy because you have to keep the rhythm,” said the Finn.

    Thierry Neuville, in a Qatar World Rally Team Citroen, said running third on the road on such a slippery surface was a “new experience”. He also said he was experiencing some pain from his burnt hands.

    Italian privateer Luca Pedersoli described an “amazing atmosphere” on the stages due to the huge numbers of fans watching the action.

    Crews are now heading to Olbia for a regroup and service halt. Stage 12, the repeat of Coiluna-Loelle, gets underway at 14:48hrs local time.

    click: wrc.com/italy ss11





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    Saturday midday wrap:



    Mikko Hirvonen's bid to avoid not winning a round of this year's FIA World Rally Championship remains on course after he completed day three's opening loop of stages on Rally Italia Sardegna leading by 1m18.7s.

    With nine-time champion and team-mate Sebastien Loeb crashing out on Friday’s first stage, Hirvonen has been left to uphold Citroen honour with a faultless display behind the wheel of his DS3 WRC. “For sure I can just take it steady without having to push but it’s not easy because you have to keep the rhythm,” said the Finn, who has finished runner-up in Sardinia on five previous occasions.

    Evgeny Novikov remains in a strong second place in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC. The Russian was quickest on stage 10 but dropped a few seconds on stage 11 overshooting a corner and having to reverse. “I lost some time but it was nothing special,” he said. Team-mate Ott Tanak is third but slightly “nervous” about a possible electrical glitch: “There was a warning light, but I am not sure why,” he said.

    Sebastien Ogier heads what has become a three-way battle for fourth place in his Volkswagen Motorsport Skoda Fabia Super 2000. The Frenchman, who is 3.3s in front of WRC Team MINI Portugal’s Chris Atkinson and 14.5s ahead of Adapta Fiesta pilot Mads Ostberg, bemoaned his decision to carry two spare tyres and fit a long-ratio gearbox to his car, which he said had cost him vital time. Ostberg, who targeted climbing from seventh to fourth at the start of the day following his delay on Friday, has gone fastest on two stages this morning and says he is ahead of schedule in his efforts to make up lost ground.

    Andreas Mikkelsen is seventh with Martin Prokop overcoming a puncture to hold eighth. Fiesta S2000 runner Karl Kruuda is ninth with Petter Solberg, who restarted under Rally 2 rules following his off on Friday, completing the top 10 but lacking the incentive to push for stage wins. “I’m just driving for the fans,” he said.

    Solberg, the 2003 world champion, is among a number of drivers who have restarted today after they failed to make it through Friday’s route. The list includes his factory Ford team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, Qatar World Rally Team’s Thierry Neuville and WRC Team MINI Portugal’s Paulo Nobre.

    Neuville, who is nursing second-degree burns to his hands, admitted to finding the slippery nature of the stages even more difficult by running third on the road behind Nobre and Italian Citroen privateer Luca Pedersoli.

    Nicolas Fuchs continues to head the Production Car World Rally Championship section despite picking up a front-right puncture on stage 10. Marcos Ligato has his sights set on catching Valeriy Gorban for second but will be hopeful that there is no reoccurrence of the electrical glitch that left him stationary on stage 11 for more than 20 seconds. Subhan Aksa impressed by setting the PWRC pace on stage 10. The Indonesian is fourth in class.

    click: wrc.com/sat midday wrap


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    SS12: Flying Ostberg takes fourth

    Privateer Mads Ostberg has moved into fourth place on Rally Italia Sardegna after demoting Chris Atkinson and Sebastien Ogier on the penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

    Ostberg, driving an Adapta World Rally Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC, was sixth overall starting the test but has overtaken the two drivers running immediately ahead of him by going fastest through the repeat of Coiluna-Loelle.

    “I understood early on that I was going quicker than necessary but there was no point slowing down when I’m enjoying it,” said Ostberg. “But I didn’t take any risks and backed off in places because there were so many stones on the road.”

    In contrast, Atkinson was far from happy at the stage finish after completing the run 26.5s slower than Ostberg. The WRC Team MINI Portugal driver said: “It felt like a good run through and I was definitely trying. It’s frustrating, we need to go faster.”

    Thierry Neuville was the first of the leading runners to report a large rock lying in the middle of the road nearing the stage finish.

    Paulo Nobre, running first on the road, spun and stalled his MINI John Cooper Works WRC, while Luca Pedersoli, Italy’s sole World Rally Car representative, was delighted after beating the time he set on the first run through the stage this morning by 1m30s. Martin Prokop dropped time going off the road in his privateer Fiesta.

    click: wrc.com/italy ss12



    ---------------------

    SS13: Latvala sets Sardinia pace

    Jari-Matti Latvala says his first stage win of Rally Italia Sardegna could be crucial in his bid to top the event-closing Power Stage on Sunday morning.

    Latvala dropped out of contention for victory on the penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship when he retired on day two but is desperate for the three bonus points on offer for winning the Power Stage in his efforts to secure third place in the final drivers’ standings. “My focus is on the Power Stage but before that I need to have the confidence to push there,” said the factory Ford driver.

    Latvala’s Ford team-mate Petter Solberg was second fastest, 1.4s adrift and moves ahead of Karl Kruuda into ninth position as a result. Kruuda reported losing time on the previous test striking a tree with the right-hand side of his Super 2000 Fiesta.

    Having moved into fourth overall on stage 12, Mads Ostberg said he has reduced his pace in his Adapta Fiesta. “I am happy to be back in fourth,” he said. “Okay, a small part inside of me wants to keep pushing really hard but we need these points for the championship and we are taking a small step down now.

    Mikko Hirvonen was sixth quickest and maintains his healthy advantage at the top of the leaderboard in his factory Citroen. Ott Tanak, who holds third overall behind M-Sport team-mate Evgeny Novikov, said his Fiesta was back to full working order following repairs at midday service. However, the Estonian said he was being extremely cautious through the rock-strewn roads.

    Thierry Neuville suggested the settings of his Qatar World Rally Team Citroen weren’t ideal for the slippery stage surface due to the fact he was sliding too much. Paulo Nobre said he tipped onto two wheels rounding one corner in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC.

    Nicolas Fuchs still leads the Production Car World Rally Championship division although his once commanding lead has been trimmed to 50.7s ahead of Valeriy Gorban after the Peruvian picked up a front-right puncture.

    click: wrc.com/italy ss13



    --------------------

    SS14: Ogier fights back



    Sebastien Ogier has fought back on Rally Italia Sardegna by snatching fifth place from Chris Atkinson on Saturday’s final stage. Despite his Super 2000-specification Skoda Fabia producing less power than Atkinson’s MINI John Cooper Works WRC, the Frenchman was able to outpace his Australian rival to hold a slender margin of 3.9s heading into day four.

    “It’s been another very good day and I’m very happy with this,” said Ogier. “We were close to the limit but we have to be if we are to fight a World Rally Car.”

    Meanwhile, Mads Ostberg has completed the penultimate day of the FIA World Rally Championship qualifier in style with his fourth stage win on the gravel event. Driving a Ford Fiesta RS WRC for the privateer Adapta World Rally Team, Ostberg was 1.3s quicker than factory Ford pilot Jari-Matti Latvala.

    “I’m very happy with the day, everything is working well and we’ve been able to push without doing anything stupid,” said Ostberg.

    Latvala’s Ford team-mate Petter Solberg was third fastest, 2.3s slower than fellow Norwegian Ostberg.

    Out front, Mikko Hirvonen, in a Citroen DS3 WRC, has preserved his healthy lead over Russian Evgeny Novikov, which stands at 1m28.2s after 14 special stages.

    Crews now have a 45-minute service prior to the overnight halt in Olbia. Sunday’s action consists of two runs over the 8.24-kilometre Gallura stage with the first pass getting underway at 09:20hrs local time. The second pass, at 11:00hrs, counts as the event-closing Power Stage.

    click: wrc.com/italy ss14




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    Saturday wrap:



    Mikko Hirvonen is two stages and 16.48 kilometres of competitive running away from winning Rally Italia Sardegna for the first time.

    The popular Finn holds an advantage of 1m28.2s at the completion of Saturday’s six stages at the wheel of the Citroen DS3 WRC he shares with co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen.

    Hirvonen has yet to win a round of the FIA World Rally Championship with the French make but concedes his prospects look good heading into the two runs of the 8.24-kilometre Gallura stage on Sunday.

    “It’s been a long day and we’ve had to be careful with all the rocks on the road but we’ve had time to go around them and had no problems,” said Hirvonen. “The car has been perfect, in fact it’s been a good day at the office. Sure it’s not over yet but we’re looking really good and we don’t have to push tomorrow.”

    Evgeny Novikov is on course to equal his previous career best of second place with M-Sport team-mate Ott Tanak heading for his maiden podium in a similar Ford Fiesta RS WRC. The youngsters have once again performed largely without fault, although Novikov suffered a minor scare when he overshot a junction on stage 11.

    Mads Ostberg has excelled by climbing from seventh at the start of the day to hold fourth overnight in his Adapta Fiesta. The Norwegian suffered extensive delay with a broken rear differential on Friday but a quartet of stage wins today has fired him back up the leaderboard, albeit almost 90 seconds behind Tanak.

    Sebastien Ogier was a stunning fourth overall in his Super 2000-specification Skoda Fabia, slipped to sixth before outpacing Chris Atkinson on the day’s final stage to move into fifth. The Frenchman said he was on the limit while Australian Atkinson, in a MINI John Cooper Works WRC, admitted to having to back off after almost going off the road on a handful of occasions.

    Andreas Mikkelsen is seventh in the second Volkswagen Motorsport-run Skoda with Martin Prokop eighth despite yet more problems in his privateer Fiesta. Factory Ford driver Petter Solberg, who restarted under Rally 2 rules after retiring on Friday, is ninth with Karl Kruuda 10th in his S2000 Fiesta.

    Luca Pedersoli, the sole Italian World Rally Car exponent, is 11th and one place away from landing a world championship point on his first start in the series for more than a decade.

    Like Ford team-mate Petter Solberg, Jari-Matti Latvala restarted under Rally 2 and claimed a stage win on his way to 15th at the overnight halt. “It’s been a good day and I’m happy how things are going today,” said Latvala. “I’m getting the feeling back and enjoying the driving again. This is important.”

    Brazilian Paulo Nobre survived a spin and a trip onto two wheels in his MINI to complete day three in 19th overall. Thierry Neuville has battled the pain of second-degree burns to his hands to complete in 21st in his Qatar World Rally Team entry. The Belgian reckons he could have been faster had he not been running so high up the order on the slippery gravel stages.

    click: wrc.com/saturday wrap


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    Sunday

    SS15: Strong start for Ostberg


    Mads Ostberg warmed-up for the Rally Italia Sardegna-closing Power Stage in style by winning the first run through Gallura.

    Driving a Ford Fiesta RS WRC for the privateer Adapta World Rally Team, Ostberg outpaced fellow Norwegian Petter Solberg - in a factory Fiesta - by 2.1s in front of huge crowds. “We tried to learn how to go on this stage and I tried in the beginning to push,” said Ostberg. “In the last half I tried to be careful and go smoother and that paid out. The next stage is very important and we will try the best we can.”

    Jari-Matti Latvala was third quickest and suggested practice would make perfect for the Power Stage: “I’m trying to do a good Power Stage by practicing in the morning. I made a couple of mistakes just to know for the Power Stage is important.”

    In the battle for fifth, Sebastien Ogier has maintained his grip on the position in his Volkswagen Motorsport Skoda Fabia Super 2000, despite Chris Atkinson’s best efforts to take the place in his WRC Team MINI Portugal entry.

    “I tried really hard,” said Atkinson, who was 6.3s off the pace and is now 5.3s behind Ogier with one 8.24-kilometre stage left to run. “We’re on fairly worn tyres and only a few seconds behind Petter. I can’t do too much more. We have to be on the limit for the last stage.”

    Event leader Mikko Hirvonen completed the run with the ninth fastest time. The Citroen Total World Rally Team ace is now just one stage away from winning the penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Second-placed Evgeny Novikov reported “taking it easy” due to the presence of a number of rocks on the inside of corners.

    Top Italian Luca Pedersoli, who is up to 10th place following Karl Kruuda’s retirement last night due to damage inflicted to his car earlier in the day, reported the stage surface was slightly damp with light drizzle in places.

    Following a regroup in Arzachena at 10:05hrs local time, the second run of Gallura, which counts as the event-closing Power Stage, goes live at 11:00hrs. The finish is scheduled for 12:45hrs in Porto Cervo.

    click: wrc.com/italy ss15



    ---------------------

    SS16: Solberg takes Power Stage win



    Petter Solberg has won the Rally Italia Sardegna event-closing Power Stage to earn three FIA World Rally Championship bonus points in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC as Mikko Hirvonen celebrated his first victory of 2012 driving a works Citroen DS3 WRC.

    Solberg was 0.2s quicker than factory Ford team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala with Thierry Neuville claiming the final bonus point in his Qatar World Rally Team Citroen.

    WRC Team MINI Portugal’s Chris Atkinson’s efforts to snatch fifth from Sebastien Ogier failed when he lost more than a minute although the precise cause is currently unclear.

    Mads Ostberg’s bid for Power Stage glory ended when he picked up a puncture striking a stone in his Adapta Fiesta.

    Ott Tanak secured his maiden WRC podium with the sixth fastest time, while M-Sport team-mate Evgeny Novikov secured second place by going fourth quickest. Hirvonen was fifth fastest and wins by 1m20.6s, his first victory for Citroen and his first in Sardinia after finishing runner-up on five previous occasions.

    Nicolas Fuchs reached the stage finish to secure his maiden Production Car World Rally Championship victory in a Symtech Racing Subaru Impreza.

    click: wrc.com/italy ss16



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    Sunday wrap:

    Mikko Hirvonen has claimed his 15th victory in the FIA World Rally Championship by winning Rally Italia Sardegna for the first time after finishing runner-up on five previous occasions alongside co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen.

    The result, the Finn’s first triumph for the factory Citroen team, secures second place in the WRC drivers’ standings subject to final ratification. Evgeny Novikov equalled his previous best WRC finish of second with M-Sport team-mate Ott Tanak clinching his maiden podium in third after both youngsters excelled throughout the four-day island event.

    “It feels really, really good,” said the Citroen number two, who was embroiled in a close fight with team leader Sebastien Loeb until the nine-time champion crashed out on Friday’s opening stage. “This was the goal we had before the rally and finally everything worked well. I’ve been five times second here and to finally win the rally I’m really pleased with that.”

    Behind Tanak, Mads Ostberg finished fourth in a similar Ford Fiesta but his efforts to win the event-closing Power Stage were dashed by a puncture after he had set the pace on the first run through the Gallura test this morning. Nevertheless, the Norwegian privateer moves into third place in the drivers’ table heading to the season finale in Spain next month.

    Volkswagen Motorsport’s Sebastien Ogier fended off Chris Atkinson in the battle for fifth place, a fine effort by the Frenchman in a Super 2000-specification Skoda Fabia. Atkinson started the Power Stage 5.3s behind Ogier in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC but lost more than a minute through the run and had to settle for sixth.

    Andreas Mikkelsen recorded his first Sardinia finish in four attempts in the second Volkswagen-run Fabia with Martin Prokop overcoming myriad problems to take eighth for the Czech Ford National Team. Petter Solberg gained some consolation for his exit on Friday by winning the Power Stage to secure ninth overall.

    Karl Kruuda’s retirement at the end of Saturday promoted Luca Pedersoli into 10th place and the final world championship point on the Italian veteran’s first start in the series for more than a decade in a privateer Citroen.

    Jari-Matti Latvala’s recovery from his Friday retirement netted 12th spot for the factory Ford team. Thierry Neuville bagged the final Power Stage point in 18th overall for the Qatar World Rally Team with Paulo Nobre finishing 19th in the second WRC Team MINI Portugal entry.

    click: wrc.com/sunday wrap

    --------------------

    Sunday PWRC wrap:



    Nicolas Fuchs has set up a thrilling six-way fight for the Production Car World Rally Championship in Spain next month with a first win in the class on Rally Italia Sardegna today.

    Fuchs, from Peru, overcame brake issues and two punctures to take victory and 25 points in his Symtech Racing Subaru Impreza to move into fourth place in the title standings, 13 adrift of leader Benito Guerra, who languished in eighth place following his exit on Thursday night.

    “It’s been a difficult rally for me first time here,” said Fuchs, who was co-driven by Argentine Fernando Mussano. “On the first day I had problems with brakes but when I have no problems I go very fast.”

    Argentina’s Marcos Ligato, in a Top Run Motorsport Impreza, kept his title hopes alive in second place with Valeriy Gorban doing likewise for the Mentos Ascania Racing team from Ukraine.

    “I tried to win but second place is still good for the championship,” said Ligato, who was 30.4s behind Fuchs at the finish of the Gallura Power Stage. “It’s still open and we will work a lot for the last round in Spain.”

    Subhan Aksa overcame a few off-road moments and a brake issue on Saturday morning to bag fourth place alongside Italian co-driver Nicola Arena. The Indonesian can still take the championship spoils but will need his rivals to falter on the mixed-surface finale.

    Oleksii Kikireshko scored his first PWRC points of the season in fifth with Michal Kosciuszko sixth. The Pole will start the final round 11 points behind Ralliart Italia team-mate Guerra, who has calculated that he can become champion by finishing third in Salou in his Mitsubishi Lancer.

    Louise Cook battled the pain barrier to finish 10th behind Gianluca Linari after she aggravated an old collarbone injury. The Briton had restarted under Rally 2 rules following her retirement on Saturday with a broken driveshaft.

    click: wrc.com/PWRC wrap

    --------------------

    Next: Round 13 RACC Rallye Spain 08 - 11 Nov




    Based on Spain’s Costa Daurada in the country’s Tarragona region, the event is always one of the highlights of the WRC season and its inclusion as the final round in 2012 will doubtless increase the number of fans who travel to the popular seaside tourist town of Salou to enjoy the party atmosphere and visit the permanent service park at the PortAventura theme park.

    While the opening day in Spain last season was in theory a gravel-only leg, just one repeated stage took place entirely on gravel with two repeated stages using a mixture of gravel and asphalt as a means of increasing the challenge for the drivers and raising the spectacle for the many spectators following the action.

    But it’s the sweeping race circuit-style asphalt roads that characterise this event that will once again dominate the competitive route. To be quick, drivers must maximise their pace through the high-speed turns by taking the optimum line at all times.

    As well as hosting the last round of the 2012 world championship season RallyRACC-Rally de Espana will host the WRC’s three support championships.

    Official Website: rallyracc.com/2012/


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