› At the FIA World Rally Championship’s sixth round, Škoda crews Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson and Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen are among the favourites for WRC2 victory
› Defending WRC2 Champion Emil Lindholm and WRC2 third overall Gus Greensmith (both Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) are not nominated to score WRC2 Drivers’ points on the Mediterranean island
› Nearly two thirds of the 39 crews entered into WRC2 rely on the Škoda Fabia
Mladá Boleslav, 31 May 2023 – After three WRC2 victories from the past five rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 crews chase the next category win during the upcoming Rally Italia Sardegna (1-4 June 2023). Competing for team Toksport WRT, Oliver Solberg from Sweden aims for the WRC2 overall lead. Also among the favourites for WRC2 victory at the Italian gravel event: former WRC2 Champion Andreas Mikkelsen from Norway.
After dominating WRC2 at the recent Rally de Portugal, Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 crews are also among the favourites for the category victory on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. Especially Oliver Solberg, who in Portugal missed his second WRC2 victory of the season by only 1.2 seconds, travels highly motivated to the Italian Island. “I never look back. I proved my speed and managed the extremely rough gravel stages of Portugal without punctures and did not take unnecessary risks. I have to keep the championship situation in mind and want again to be clever, fast and smart”, the 21-year-old son of former FIA World Rally Champion Petter Solberg comments. Solberg trails current WRC2 overall leader Yohan Rossel by only one point.
For Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (NOR/NOR), Rally Italia Sardegna is only their second WRC2 event of the season. Mikkelsen, winner of both the WRC2 and the FIA European Rally Championship in 2021 at the wheel of a Škoda, travels to the Mediterranean island with mixed emotions. In 2021 and 2022, the Norwegian had to leave Sardinia empty handed. “Now it is time for revenge and my first WRC2 victory of the season. I am confident, because I know what the new Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 is capable of on rough gravel stages,” Mikkelsen looks ahead.
A whopping 39 cars are entered into WRC2 – 24 of them carry the Škoda logo. Candidates for a top spot in the category are also last year’s third overall Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL) and Mikołaj Marczyk (POL) of ORLEN Rally Team as well as Orsák Rally Sport’s Erik Cais (CZE). Gus Greensmith (GBR), WRC2 winner in Mexico and Portugal, as well as reining WRC2 Champion Emil Lindholm (FIN) both compete in a Toksport WRT run Škoda Fabia RS Rally2. But both have not nominated Rally Italia Sardegna as one of their points scoring events. As a rule, WRC2 registered drivers have to choose seven out of the 13 WRC rounds for their championship campaign.
A handful of Škoda drivers are entered into the WRC2 sub-divisions. In the WRC Masters Cup, which is reserved for drivers aged 50 and over, Armin Kremer (DEU), Mauro Miele (ITA), Johannes Keferböck (AUT) and Rally de Portugal category winner Alexander Villanueva (ESP) will try to catch up with overall leader Zoltán László (HUN), who takes a break and doesn’t bring his Škoda to Sardinia. Leader Nikolay Gryazin (ANA) and third placed Sami Pajari (FIN), both at the wheel of a team Toksport WRT run Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, compete for points in the WRC2 Challenger classification reserved for drivers, who have not yet won a WRC2 or WRC3 title as well as not previously been nominated to score manufacturer points.
Rally Italia Sardegna, which is held on mostly sandy and stony gravel roads, features 19 special stages over a total of 334.05 kilometres. On Thursday (1 June), a short 3.23-kilometre show stage will be driven outside the harbour town of Olbia, which will again host the service park. Friday offers six stages covering 148.40 kilometres. Saturday features another 136.34 kilometres divided into eight stages. On Sunday, four stages over 46.08 kilometres close the rally.
Did you know, that…
…the Italian round of the FIA World Rally Championship until 2003 was held on the mainland, based in Sanremo, before it moved to the Mediterranean island of Sardinia?
…this year, Rally Italia Sardegna celebrates its 20. anniversary?
...the event today known as Rally Italia Sardegna first took place in 1928 under the name of “Rally of the Flowers” and was (except for 2010) a part of the FIA World Rally Championship ever since its inauguration in 1973?
…the iconic stage “Monte Lerno” features the spectacular “Micky’s jump”, comparable only to the famous Fafe jump of Rally de Portugal? In addition, the 49.92 kilometres of “Monte Lerno” are not only the longest stage of this rally, but also the longest stage of the current WRC season so far.
Top-3 WRC2 Drivers’ classification (before Rally Italia Sardegna)
1. Yohan Rossel (FRA), (Citroën C3 Rally2), 65 points
2. Oliver Solberg (SWE), Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, 64 points
3. Gus Greensmith (GBR), Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, 62 points
Top-3 WRC2 Teams’ classification (before Rally Italia Sardegna)
1. Toksport WRT (Škoda), 80 points
2. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team, 76 points
3. Toksport WRT 2 (Škoda), 65 points
2023 FIA World Rally Championship
|Guanajuato Rally México
|Rally de Portugal
|Rally Italia Sardegna
|Safari Rally Kenya
|Acropolis Rally Greece
|28 September-1 October
|Central European Rally (CZE/AUT/DEU)