This morning’s Rally Italia Sardegna shakedown presented the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT drivers with different challenges. Andreas Mikkelsen was the hardest-working driver, completing seven runs as he looked to build confidence in the C3 WRC. The Norwegian even managed to set the team’s best performance, with the fourth fastest time.
Following the arrival of Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger alongside Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle and Craig Breen/Scott Martin, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT was the focus of much attention ahead of the start of Rally Italia Sardegna.
The 4.15km-long Olmedo stage used for the shakedown provided the crews with the chance to get their bearings on the Sardinian roads.
At the end of his opening run, Kris Meeke headed straight back to service so that the team could change a loose suspension tie rod. He set off again to complete the three mandatory runs, claiming the seventh fastest time with a 2:33.6.
Keen to conserve his tyres before the start of the most demanding rally of the season, Craig Breen was also content to stick to the three mandatory attempts. He set the eleventh fastest time with a 2:35.3.
Unsurprisingly, Andreas Mikkelsen was the hardest-working of the leading drivers! After three runs, he returned to service to adjust his car’s set-up, before heading back out to complete another four attempts. With the road swept clear of dust and sand, the Norwegian set the fourth fastest time of the morning with a 2:33.1.
The cars will leave the Alghero service park from 5pm. Held on the former motocross track, this evening short Ittiri super special stage will provide an initial pecking order. After a long road section, the day will end in parc ferme at Olbia.
Kris Meeke: “We had a minor technical problem on the first pass. Nothing serious – that’s part of what the shakedown is for, to check that everything is working well on the car. After heading back to service, we did a couple more runs. There were some deep ruts on the road by that point, with only one proper racing line. It’s difficult to work on the set-up when conditions are like that, but our times were pretty good. I’m looking forward to the start of the rally.”
Craig Breen: “This shakedown wasn’t easy to get to grips with, but it went well. Although you can’t cover everything you’re going to encounter in a rally on a four-kilometre stage, we did learn some interesting things. In order to conserve our tyres for the next few days, we went with a less than ideal tyre choice. Taking that into account, we’re pleased with our times. We improved by more than ten seconds between the first and the third run. That just goes to show how significant cleaning is in Sardinia.”
Andreas Mikkelsen: “The priority this morning was to get a good feeling in the Citroën C3 WRC. We are still learning about the car and the shakedown helped us to get into ‘rally mode’. Building on what I had already learned in testing, this morning’s shakedown helped me to increase my knowledge of the car and to gain a better understanding of its reactions in various conditions… It’s all about feeling in rallying and that’s what we’re trying to develop as we complete more kilometres in the car.”
1. Sordo / Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2:31.8
2. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2:32.0
3. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC)
4. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Citroën C3 WRC) 2:33.1
= Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:33.1
6. Paddon / Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2:33.2
7. Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) 2:33.6
8. Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 2:33.7
9. Hänninen / Lindstrom (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:34.2
10. Østberg / Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) 2:35.1
11. Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) 2:35.3
12. Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) 2:38.4