Wolfsburg (15 October 2012). Volkswagen Motorsport is returning to Italy. Exactly a year ago, in Sardinia, the Wolfsburg-based carmaker officially announced that it would enter the World Rally Championship as of the 2013 season.
Next weekend (18–21 October), the team, as it has been throughout the 2012 season, will be fielding two Fabia S2000 cars from the Group’s Škoda brand on the Mediterranean island to prepare for its WRC entry.
“On returning to Sardinia, our squad, in a way, is coming full circle.
This is where the public starting signal for our WRC project was given last year,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “The penultimate round puts the World Rally Championship on the finishing straight.
In Italy, we will again be working seriously and with full concentration on preparing for our entry with the Polo R WRC.
Therefore, our primary aim is to see both cars finish in Porto Cervo if at all possible. Naturally, though, we’re also driven by the ambition to continue our string of ten class victories to date at the two last WRC rounds.”
Rally Italy: twelfth round of the season with 16 tricky special stages
Rally Italy is one of the major classic events in the history of rally racing’s top category. From 1973 to 2003, it was held as Rally San Remo on the northern Italian Riviera coast and in the Maritime Alps.
Since 2004, the Mediterranean island of Sardinia has been playing host to the Italian WRC round. The service park is located in the harbour of the coastal town of Olbia in the north-east of the island.
This year, however, marks the first time for “Rallye Italia Sardegna”, as the event is officially named, to finish and hold the podium ceremony in Porto Cervo, located 30 kilometres north of Olbia in the heart of the Costa Smeralda tourist region.
“At the moment, rallies and tests are taking turns in almost seamless succession. After Rally France, we directly travelled to tests with the Polo, and it was nice that they were held relatively close to my home town, Gap,” explains Sébastien Ogier just before embarking on the trip to Italy.
We’re now in the final phase of our preparations for 2013 and are working at full stretch on making the Polo as fast a car as possible.
Sardinia on the other hand serves as preparation for the rally team and helps us drivers and co-drivers to become even more familiar with the special stages,” says the Frenchman in Volkswagen’s employ.
28-year-old Ogier has clinched as many as nine S2000 class victories so far in the preparatory season for Volkswagen Motorsport.
In doing so, he even positioned himself in the middle of the world’s elite of WRC drivers six times and has scored as many as 31 points in the drivers’ world championship.
In Italy, the second cockpit of the Škoda Fabia S2000 fielded by Volkswagen will be occupied again by Andreas Mikkelsen and his co-driver Ola Fløene. The two Norwegians are contesting their sixth run this season at Rallye Italia Sardegna.
“After the good result in France, I’m very much looking forward to the next run with Volkswagen.
Sardinia has totally different characteristics; we’re running on hard gravel, with many jumps and even passages through water,” explains the Norwegian, who has previously run in Sardinia in the Italian Rally Championship.
“For me, it’s about becoming even more familiar with the rally and trying to keep up with the pace of my quick team-mate,” says Mikkelsen.
In Sardinia, 16 special stages covering a total of 306.04 kilometres with varying characteristics are awaiting the rally racers. Long stretches of the route lead over rocky trails covered with thin layers of sand or fine gravel.
Despite some of the rally trails being very narrow the special stages are rather quick. Dangers are lurking underneath the gravel in the form of frequently rough and sometimes sharp-edged lateral grooves as well as hidden wayside rocks and boulders.
On the winding forest trails at higher elevations there is an additional danger of dust that has been kicked up hanging in the air for a long time and thus impairing visibility. Attention and precise driving are prerequisites for an accident-free run.
Source: Volkswagen Motorsport