Unseasonably wet weather hit this morning's Rally Italia Sardegna shakedown, with rain replacing the typically hot, sunny conditions and significantly reducing the window during which fast times could be realistically set. Unable to get out in this window, Craig Breen – Scott Martin and Mads Østberg – Torstein Eriksen, who finished tenth and eleventh respectively, chose instead to focus on preparations for the race.
Tours operators all tend to recommend June as the month to visit Sardinia, not least because the island often has warm, sunny weather by then. So today's rain is highly unusual at this time of year. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT therefore used the 3.34km shakedown, which included part of one of the weekend's stages, to work on set-up of its C3 WRC in these unusual conditions.
With the road surface initially just damp, the C3 WRCs were on the pace on their first two runs. As the rain became heavier, ruining any chance of improving their times, the team decided to use this opportunity to run through various set-up options ahead of the weekend's race. Craig Breen and Mads Østberg ended the morning in tenth (+3.6s) and eleventh (+4.0) places, but with lots of new data.
Although the crews start racing this evening on the two-kilometre Ittiri Arena Show super special stage, the real action gets underway tomorrow with eight stages over a competitive distance 122.86 kilometres. After today's showers, the local roads – which are usually swept clear of a lot of dust and loose gravel by the early runners – may react very differently…
WHAT THEY SAID
"We were in service when the road was cleaning, and then the rain got heavier and it became very wet so we couldn't really try to set fast times. The feeling in the car was nonetheless very good and that's the most important thing. I'm pleased with the balance of my C3 WRC and I'm now really looking forward to seeing what the race has in store."
"The changeable conditions weren't especially easy to get to grips with this morning but we had a positive session. We'll now have to make the right calls tomorrow, depending on the weather and the expected level of grip. In any case, I felt confident behind the wheel of my C3 WRC and that's the key thing."
- Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) 1:53.9
- Paddon / Marshall (Hyundai i20 WRC) 1:54.7
- Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 1:54.8
- Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) 1:54.8
- Tänak / Jarveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 1:54.8
- Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1:55.3
- Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1:56.1
- Suninen / Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1:56.7
- Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) 1:57.1
- Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) 1:57.5
- Østberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 WRC) 1:57.9