› Czech pairing Martin Prokop/Michal Ernst finishes highest placed Škoda crew as fourth in WRC2.
› Armin Kremer and daughter Ella Kremer from Germany power a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 to victory in the WRC Masters Cup classification.
› Sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship ends with 16 Škoda among the positions 1 to 20.

Alghero (ITA), 2 June 2024 – In contrast to previous years, the stages of Rally Italia Sardegna this time didn’t bring much success for the Škoda teams. Martin Prokop and co-driver Michael Ernst ended up highest placed crew aboard a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2. The Czech pairing finished the sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship fourth in WRC2 and ninth overall.

The gravel stages of Sardinia are counted as some of the roughest and rockiest on the championships calendar. With seven Škoda crews inside the WRC2 top 10, the  result underlined again the robustness of the latest Rally2 car from Mladá Boleslav. After the Friday leg, Pierre-Louis Loubet and co-driver Loris Pascaud were highest placed Škoda crew in second WRC2 position. They were hoping to get some seconds back by a notional time: In SS3, they were caught in the dust of another competitor, who had stopped to change a wheel. But the discussion became superfluous when Pierre-Louis Loubet/Loris Pascaud had to retire on Saturday.

Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Maciej Szczepaniak (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) reached the second leg’s finish fourth in WRC2. The Polish pairing competing for Spanish team RaceSeven had to take out some speed late into the day due to a slow puncture, but eventually made it to the service. They had two Škoda crews, Czech duo Martin Prokop/Michal Ernst and Estonians Robert Virves/Aleks Lesk, right at their heels. Josh McErlean and co-driver James Fulton from Ireland lost a top position when they had to change a wheel on their Toksport WRT run Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 (SS6).

With only 40 competitive kilometres remaining, the Sunday looked easy. But the stages were again very rough, asking for clever tyre management from the crews. Martin Prokop/Michal Ernst didn’t want to settle for fifth and launched an attack on Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Maciej Szczepaniak. After the final leg’s second test, the Czech and the Polish pairings had changed positions. “Maybe, I was a little bit too careful,” analysed “Kajto”. He hit back during the rally ending, 7.1 kilometres Powerstage. But taking seven seconds out of Martin Prokop wasn’t enough – at the rally’s finish 3.9 seconds decided in favour of the Czech crew. “It’s been a crazy week! I really relaxed from my daily job and you can see: I’m still not old,” beamed Martin Prokop, 41-year-old Junior World Rally Champion of 2009. Robert Virves/Aleks Leks in sixth were followed by four more Škoda crews inside the top 10 of WRC2.

Tenth place went in WRC2 to Armin Kremer and co-driving daughter Ella Kremer. Sharing a Baumschlager Rallye & Racing run Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, the two Germans won the WRC Masters Cup classification reserved for drivers older than 50 years for the second time this season. Mauro Miele and co-driver Luca Beltrame from Italy finished sixth with DreamOne Racing’s Škoda Fabia RS Rally2. Miele defended the lead the WRC Masters Cup overall standings with one point from Armin Kremer. In total, 16 Škoda in Rally2 spec featured inside the top 20 of the WRC2 classification.

Oliver Solberg had not nominated Rally Italia Sardegna as one of his WRC2 points scoring events. Fortunately, it had to be said in hindsight. The 22-year-old Swede was hit by a severe allergic reaction just hours before shakedown. Following the advice of the doctors, he decided not to start – his Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 remained parked in the Toksport WRT service tent.

Next stop for the WRC2 crews is Mikołajki right in the heart of the Masurian Lake District. After an absence of seven years, Rally Poland makes a comeback to the FIA World Rally Championship from 27 to 30 June 2024.

Number of the rally: 3
Rally Italia Sardegna tried out a new, shorter format for a WRC event. The action was compressed into three days only with shakedown on Friday morning and the start in the afternoon. The 16 stages covered 266 kilometres, roughly 80 kilometres less than usual.

Rally Italia Sardegna, 31 May – 2 June 2024, Result WRC2
1 Sami Pajari/Enni Mälkönen (FIN/FIN), Toyota GR Yaris Rally2, 3:13:19.0 hours
2 Yohan Rossel/Benjamin Boulloud (FRA/FRA), Citroën C3 Rally2, +32.3 seconds
3 Jan Solans/Rodrigo Sanjuan (ESP/ESP), Toyota GR Yaris Rally2, +39.3 seconds
4 Martin Prokop/Michal Ernst (CZE/CZE), Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, +2:52.0 minutes
5 Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Maciej Szczepaniak (POL/POL), Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, +2:55.9 minutes
6 Robert Virves/Aleks Lesk (EST/EST), Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, +3:18.5 minutes

Standings WRC2/Drivers (after 6 of 13 events)
1 Yohan Rossel (FRA), Citroën, 71 points
2 Jan Solans (ESP), Toyota, 48 points
3 Oliver Solberg (SWE), Škoda, 43 points