Rally Italia Sardegna
The Van Merksteijns and Solberg head for Italy
Three DS3 WRCs run by Citroën Racing Technologies will start the Rally of Italy in Sardinia next weekend. Taking star billing will be Petter Solberg/Chris Patterson (Petter Solberg World Rally Team) who are aiming for a podium finish. Also driving is is the father and son line-up of Peter van Merksteijn Sr and Jr, co-driven by Erwin Mombaerts and Eddy Chevaillier respectively. The Dutch crews will be looking to maximise their experience of the DS3 on the demanding Italian rally.
In order to prepare for the event, Petter Solberg and Peter van Merksteijn Jr took part in a recent test in the south of France. “We were using quite a rough place, which resembles the Sardinian stages,” explained Benoit Nogier, who is in charge of Citroën Racing Technologies. “Our drivers were able to get to grips with terrain that was a little more sandy and dusty than the roads we have seen on the latest rallies. We worked hard on the set-up of the Citroën DS3 WRC in order to optimise the traction. Petter Solberg and Peter van Merksteijn Jr were able to benefit from the conditions to feel well-prepared for this weekend’s action.”
The three crews will have very different objectives, according to Benoit Nogier. “We’d like to see Petter Solberg on the podium again,” Nogier said. “He has been competitive since the start of the season and really deserves a result like this. For Peter van Merksteijn Jr, he just needs to accumulate more and more kilometres that will help him to make progress. His times in Portugal and Jordan were encouraging. His mission here will be to reach the finish. As for Peter van Merksteijn Sr, his sole objective is to enjoy himself on a World Championship round and we will be there to help him get the most out of it.”
Petter Solberg (Petter Solberg World Rally Team) has been extremely competitive since his very first kilometres in the Citroën DS3 WRC, but so far has not yet been able to convert that into a podium. The Norwegian, the winner of the very first World Championship Rally held in Sardinia in 2004, will run fifth on the road throughout the opening day with the firm aim of playing a key role in proceedings.
Peter van Merksteijn Jr was present in Portugal and Jordan and will continue his programme in Sardinia. Having become more and more consistent with every kilometre, the 28-year-old Dutchman will aim to continue making progress and cover as many stages as possible on his third appearance in the Citroën DS3 WRC.
Peter van Merksteijn Sr will make his Citroën DS3 WRC debut on the Rally d’Italia. The 54-year-old was unavailable to come to the test session and will only get to drive the car for the first time during the shakedown. The owner of van Merksteijn Motorsport has been driving rallies since 1985 and forms an integral part of the team that also runs his son. Van Merksteijn Sr will be taking part in the 11th rally of his World Championship career, having previously participated in the Le Mans 24 Hours (winning LMP2 in 2008) and the legendary Dakar Rally.