Rally Italia Sardegna: ŠKODA’s Kalle Rovanperä and Jan Kopecký fighting for WRC 2 Pro glory

› Driving the new ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo, Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen want to defend the WRC 2 Pro overall lead at the FIA World Rally Championship’s eighth round
› Reigning WRC 2 Champions Jan Kopecký and co-driver Pavel Dresler aim to repeat their last year’s victory on the Mediterranean island
› Record number: 37 R5 cars on the entry list, ŠKODA with 21 competitors strongest brand

Mladá Boleslav, 12 June 2019 – After the stunning debut of the new ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo with a double victory in the WRC 2 Pro category at Rally Portugal, the Czech brand is travelling with high hopes to the next round of the FIA World Rally Championship 2019, the Rally Italia Sardegna (13/06/–16/06/2019). While Rally Portugal WRC 2 Pro winners Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (FIN/FIN) make their first trip to the Mediterranean island ever, runner-up duo Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (CZE/CZE) won their category the last two years.

At the recent Rally Portugal, the new ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo celebrated a successful WRC debut with a double victory by Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen and Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler. The further developed rally car from Mladá Boleslav proved speed and reliability on Portuguese gravel, now the sandy and rocky roads of Sardinia wait for the ŠKODA works crews. For the reigning
WRC 2 and Czech Rally Champion Jan Kopecký the Italian round of the FIA World Rally Championship is one of his favourite events. “With my local victories in the WRC 2 category in 2017 and 2018 I have been able already to prove, that I am not only a tarmac specialist. I really like the gravel stages of Sardinia, it is all about finding the right pace in order to avoid punctures,” says Jan Kopecký.

With victories in Chile and Portugal under his belt, Kalle Rovanperä is currently leading the WRC 2 Pro category and is praised by ŠKODA Motorsport boss Michal Hrabánek. “By winning in Chile and Portugal, Kalle not only proved his pure speed. He is as well able to control a lead by avoiding unnecessary risks. In Sardinia, his challenge will be special, however. To win there, you need experience. But Kalle is on the island for the very first time. Just about 20 kilometres of the special stages are new compared to last year’s edition. So most of Kalle’s competitors can very much rely on their previous experience,” comments Hrabánek. Nevertheless, Rovanperä looks forward to the trip to Sardinia. “Yes, it is true that the stages are totally new to me. But I had to handle this disadvantage already for many of the world championship events this season. So I am quite confident, especially because our ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo demonstrated recently in Portugal how well it works on tough gravel roads,” says the 18 years old Finn.

In 2018, 19 R5 cars were on the entry list of the Italian round of the FIA World Rally Championship. This year, the number of entries increased to a new WRC record level: A total of 37 R5 cars is entered, ŠKODA with 21 participants by far being the strongest brand of the category.

At Rally Italia Sardegna – so the event’s official name –, not only the tough gravel roads, but as well the temperatures are a big challenge for the crews. For example, while the ambient temperature ranges at 30 degrees Celsius, the heat inside the rally cars can easily raise up to 70 degrees. The rally offers 19 special stages totalling more than 310 kilometres on rugged and sun-baked gravel roads. After the spectacular Super Special Stage “Ittiri Arena Show” on Thursday, Friday features eight stages covering around 124 kilometres. Like last year, Saturday is the longest day of the rally with six special stages totalling more than 142 kilometres. Sunday will bring the final decision with four stages close to the coast north of the host town of Alghero.

Did you know,

… the event today known as Rally Italia first took place in 1928 under the name “Rally of the Flowers” and was (except 2010 when it was counting for the IRC/Intercontintal Rally Championship) a part of the FIA World Rally Championship ever since its inauguration in 1973?

…that the Italian round of the FIA World Rally Championship until 2003 was held on the mainland, based in Sanremo, before it moved to the island of Sardinia?

…Michèle Mouton became the first – and until today only – woman to win a WRC round when she finished first at the 1981 Sanremo Rally?

…that the iconic stage “Monte Lerno” of Rally Italia Sardegna features the spectacular “Micky’s jump”, comparable only to the famous Fafe jump of Rally Portugal.

The calendar of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2 Pro)

Monte-Carlo 24/01/–27/01/2019
Sweden 14/02/–17/02/2019
Mexico 07/03/–10/03/2019
France 28/03/–31/03/2019
Argentina 25/04/–28/04/2019
Chile 09/05/–12/05/2019
Portugal 30/05/–02/06/2019
Italy 13/06/–16/06/2019
Finland 01/08/–04/08/2019
Germany 22/08/–25/08/2019
Turkey 12/09/–15/09/2019
Great Britain 03/10/–06/10/2019
Spain 24/10/–27/10/2019
Australia 14/11/–17/11/2019

Additional info