The Rally Italia Sardegna will see the return of Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen, who was left without a confirmed WRC drive for 2017 after Volkswagen’s departure at the end of the 2016 season. Mikkelsen and co-driver Anders Jæger will contest the event in a Citroën C3 WRC, meaning that Stéphane Lefebvre will miss the event and focus on preparing for Rally Poland at the end of June.
After claiming a second victory of the 2017 season at Rally de Portugal, Sebastien Ogier appears to be back on the sparkling form that drove him to win the last four consecutive World Championship titles. Furthering his lead in the Drivers’ Championship this time around, the Frenchman is in a strong position for Sardinia, an event that he won from 2013 to 2015, before finishing third in 2016.
Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville has had a strong season so far, following a bumpy start in Monte Carlo and Sweden. The Belgian (along with Ogier) has won two of the six events so far in the 2017 season, as well as achieving third place in Mexico and second in Portugal. Hot on the heels of the defending world champion, Neuville has every chance of closing the gap between him and first place Ogier in Sardinia.
Returning to the WRC after a 17-year absence, Toyota’s most experienced driver Jari-Matti Latvala enjoyed a strong start to the season, driving to a second-place finish on the team’s maiden event in Monte Carlo and then going one further to win Rally Sweden. The Finn hasn’t enjoyed any podium finishes since Sweden, but is still fighting for points after a tough Rally Portugal saw him take the fight to the front, before rolling his Yaris WRC on Friday.
Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen has contested three events so far this season, driving a Skoda Fabia R5 in the WRC2 support category. Taking clear victories in Monte Carlo and Corsica, the former VW driver was on course for his third victory in Portugal but, after hitting a stone during the final Power Stage, the victory slipped away and was handed to Skoda teammate Pontus Tidemand. Citroën’s move to bring in the Norwegian for Rally Sardinia could well pay off, after Mikkelsen finished in a strong third place in the 2016 season at the top level of the sport – something Citroën will be hoping can give them a helping hand.
Previous WRC Rally Sardinia Podiums:
- 2016: 1st Thierry Neuville, 2nd Jari-Matti Latvala, 3rd Sebastien Ogier
- 2015: 1st Sebastien Ogier, 2nd Hayden Paddon, 3rd Thierry Neuville
- 2014: 1st Sebastien Ogier, 2nd Mads Østberg, 3rd Jari-Matti Latvala
Following his second victory of the season in Portugal, Sebastien Ogier has increased the M-Sport World Rally Team’s lead in the Manufacturer’s Championship, leaving them 26 points ahead of second place Hyundai Motorsport. In an attempt to keep the Frenchman at the top of the Championship standings, M-Sport built a brand-new Fiesta WRC for Portugal, a move which paid off immediately and is likely to continue throughout the rest of the season.
Thierry Neuville shouldn’t be overlooked in Sardinia, having won the event last year and finishing in third place in 2015. A strong 2017 season means the Belgian is in a good position to push for a win, however, the smart money would still be with Ogier this time out. The return of Andreas Mikkelsen to the top level of the sport could provide some competition for Neuville, as witnessed in 2016, but Mikkelsen’s outing in the C3 WRC means he will have far less experience competing in a 2017-spec car.
- Sports.net's Top Tip: Sebastien Ogier to win at 7/4
Please note that odds may fluctuate.