A CONSTRUCTIVE DAY FOR BREEN AND MIKKELSEN
The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT crews achieved what they set out to do on day two of Rally Italia Sardegna. Craig Breen/Scott Martin managed to set several top-five times, whilst Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger continued to improve in the C3 WRC.
The Alghero service park was bustling with activity before sunrise as the first competitors started to arrive from 5am. The C3 WRCs lined up at the start of this second day were driven by Andreas Mikkelsen, ninth overall, and Craig Breen, back in action under Rally2 rules.
With the long Monti di Ala’ and Monte Lerno stages, this leg promised to be the most demanding for the crews, the cars and the tyres.
Second on the road, Andreas Mikkelsen had to cope with sweeping the stages clear of dust and gravel, an issue for early runners at all loose surface events. In an attempt to compensate for his unenviable position, the Norwegian contested the first loop on soft Michelin LTX Force tyres. He tried different set-ups on the morning's stages but lost two minutes after picking up a puncture on Monte Lerno 1 (SS12).
Craig Breen's morning got off to a good start with the third fastest time on Coiluna – Loelle 1 (SS10). He then fell back into the pack, as he struggled with his car's handling.
Following the mid-leg service, the crews set off in their Citroën C3 WRCs fitted with hard tyres.
Craig Breen produced yet another fine performance on Coiluna – Loelle: for the second run, the Irishman set the second fastest time, just a second off the stage-winning time!
Andreas Mikkelsen's miserable luck on Monte Lerno continued, as the Norwegian was forced to contest the stage with rear-wheel drive only due a front differential problem. He managed nonetheless to remain positive and was pleased to have made further progress in understanding the C3 WRC.
Tomorrow's third and final leg of Rally Italia Sardegna will be a short spring finish of four stages, contested with no service period.
Andreas Mikkelsen: "It's getting better and better! After the first day, which we spent mostly getting to grips with the C3 WRC, I had come to the conclusion that I needed to keep my driving style – which I know is effective – and work instead on the set-up. That's what we did today, with a lot of changes from one stage to the next. It's always difficult to work that like during a rally, because we only have the mid-leg service during which we can make the most significant changes. But the main thing is that we're moving in the right direction."
Craig Breen: "It would appear that we had a very good package for the first stage of the loop. That allowed me to put in a couple of good performances, unlike the other two stages, where I was really struggling. We don't know why as yet, but I had quite a few moments in there. Whatever it was, we managed to make it to the end of the leg and collected a bit more experience. We'll try to do the same thing tomorrow."
UNOFFICIAL STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1. Tänak / Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) 2:56:37.3
2. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +24.3
3. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 1:02.2
4. Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:10.8
5. Hänninen / Lindstrom (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:42.1
6. Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3:26.1
7. Østberg / Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3:56.0
8. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Citroën C3 WRC) +7:47.6
… Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) +44:09.3