The action is finally on in Sardinia. The events of this year’s Rally Italia Sardegna kicked off with the shakedown this morning. A rough, 3.51 kilometre long track in the hills above the town of Olmedo was demanding to both crews and cars, and FABIA R5 crews once again shone.

Ole Christian Veiby with co-driver Stig Rune Skjærmoen posted the fastest time of the day, at 2:03.8, together with French crew of Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau on Citroën C3 R5, followed by another Citroën crew. Fourth and fifth positions went to Fabio Andolfi on a customer FABIA R5 and the second works crew, Jan Kopecký and Pavel Dresler, who are getting used to driving a gravel rally after some time. Even their time, though, was just 0.9 seconds behind the lead.

“I enjoyed myself driving on gravel with my ŠKODA FABIA R5 very much”, emphasized Veiby and Kopecký added: “The car works perfect, I am very confident for the Rally.

The right tire choice is one key to success here on Sardinia. For the 20 special stages, totalling 314,36 kilometres (read more about the stages in our detailed article), the crews have the maximum allowance of only 20 tires in total. Teams can choose between a soft compound, which offers more grip on sandy passages and on loose gravel, or a harder tire which is more robust on rocky surfaces. The weather makes the right tire choice even harder. Temporary rainfalls made some passages even more muddy and the forecast shows additional rain in the night before the tough Friday leg will start.

On top of that, the second special stage “Tula” is partially new to the competitors, covering more than 22 kilometres, offers on the first part a lot of stones and rocks and finishes on a more sandy surface.

“It is very important to avoid any risk of getting a puncture there, because four stages have to be driven before the cars will return to the service in Alghero. Therefore, the crews need a clever approach to this special challenge”, commented ŠKODA Motorsport boss Michal Hrabánek.

The afternoon leg will see the repetition of the morning stages, the loose gravel will be probably gone, but rocks and stages could have been digged out after the first passage of the nearly one hundred competitors.

We wish all the ŠKODA crews best of luck in tomorrow’s first special stage!