2005 FIA Junior World Rally Championship
Round 3 - Rally d'Italy-Sardinia (28 April - 1 May)
Sunday 1 May 2005 - Final


Suzuki driver Urmo Aava has finished the Rally d'Italia-Sardinia, round three of the Junior World Rally Championship, in second place. Despite hitting problems, the Suzukis of P-G Andersson and Guy Wilks have finished fifth and sixth, while the Jipocar Ignis of Martin Prokop is seventh. This means that four Suzukis have finished in the top eight points-scoring places!

Excellent performance of Umo Aava with the Suzuki Ignis

The unusually hot and rough conditions over all three days of the rally decimated the field, with several high-profile retirements due to the rocky and abrasive gravel roads. Temperatures were much hotter than predicted, exceeding 30 degrees centigrade, while the sharp stones caused several punctures.

The action was fast and furious, with the newly developed Citroen C2 providing the toughest challenge for Suzuki. The winner was in doubt up until the final stage, due to the unpredictable conditions which rewarded speed but also consistency.

Urmo AavaStaying out of trouble was the key to success, and Urmo Aava drove sensibly yet rapidly on his return to competition after a six-month break. It was the first time that the Estonian had driven the five-door Ignis, yet he quickly got to grips with his new machine to set an impressive series of stage times and match his best-ever result.

Urmo said: "This rally has been a big adventure for me as I had to drive sensibly in order to learn the car. Because of that I was just trying to avoid problems from the start so maybe that was why I was able to get such a good result. The car feels very good and it's certainly very strong: there were some unbelievably big rocks on the road. This was close to a perfect rally for me: we had no real problems and we could just keep going until the finish. I'm very happy."

P-GReigning Junior World Champion P-G Andersson hit problems on SS8 of day two, when he stopped with a broken gearbox casing that deprived his Ignis of drive and fourth place. Before then, he had lost time with a puncture on the opening stage. Nonetheless, he was able to re-join the rally on the final day under the new re-start rules and ended up with a strong points finish.

P-GP-G said: "I won this rally last year, but I don't remember it being so rough! This has been a struggle from start to finish. On the opening stage we had a puncture, then on the second day the gearbox casing broke which meant that we were not going anywhere! Luckily our mechanics were able to fix the car and get me out for the final day, where I was able to score some points. It's a real pity though, as we should have scored more."

Guy WilksHis team mate Guy Wilks stopped on the same SS8, after breaking a lower track control arm because of the constant battering from the many sharp rocks. But he too was able to re-join the rally for the final day and ended up scoring a hard-earned three championship points.

The Englishman commented: "This rally started off badly and got worse! I had to stop and change a puncture on the very first stage, which meant that I had to push hard in order to get back up to sixth place. I was confident that we could improve further, but then the suspension broke and we had to stop. It was lucky that we were able to complete the final leg and score points, but I won't be taking any fond memories away from this rally! Still, rallying is all about taking the rough with the smooth: quite literally in the case of Sardinia!"

Risto LaineTeam manager Risto Laine reported: "We came to this rally expecting a big fight with Citroen, and to some extent we were right, but in the end it became more a question of survival! I think it's a real pity that the route has been so rough: there have been a lot of damaged cars. But we have come away from this event with more points than we imagined were possible yesterday, so we have to be pleased about that. The pace of the Citroen was no surprise to us: this is absolutely what we thought they were capable of. Now we're looking forward to the next rally and the same challenge all over again!"

Kosti KatajamakiSuzuki driver Kosti Katajamaki was leading until the second day, when he lost three and a half minutes after sliding off the road and watching spectators steal the front wings off his car! He recovered to fourth place, but the constant impacts with several big rocks meant that that he broke a chassis leg and holed the sump at the end of the second day. The mechanics tried to fix the problem, but Kosti was eventually forced to retire on the final day.

The Finn, backed by two-time World Champion Marcus Gronholm, said: "Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose in rallying, and unfortunately on this event I lost. I'm very happy with our speed on this event, but of course you have to get to the finish as well. We tried our best, but the route was just so rough."

Martin ProkopYoung Czech Martin Prokop, driving an Ignis run by Jipocar, scored his first points of the year with seventh place. "I'm very happy," he said. "My aim on this event was to learn as much as possible, because I don't have much experience. To score some points as well is fantastic."

The next round of the Junior World Rally Championship is June's Acropolis Rally but P-G Andersson and Guy Wilks will be back in action competing in class A6 on the Cyprus Rally from May 13-15. This round of the World Championship is notoriously rough and rocky - meaning that Sardinia will have been a good learning experience!

The championship situation is now incredibly close, with the top four drivers from Citroen and Suzuki covered by just two points!

Junior World Rally Championship classification at end of leg three, Rally d'Italia:

1 Daniel Sordo (Citroen C2) 4h35m13.4s
2 Urmo Aava (Suzuki Ignis) +3m33.9s
3 Kris Meeke (Citroen C2) +4m39.4s
4 Luca Betti (Renault Clio) +8m44.5s
5 P-G Andersson (Suzuki Ignis) +19m20.0s
6 Guy Wilks (Suzuki Ignis) +22m10.1s
7 Martin Prokop (Suzuki Ignis) +24m51.9s

8 Conrad Rautenbach (Citroen C2) +29m03.4s
9 Pavel Valousek (Suzuki Ignis) +29m12.9s

Junior World Rally Championship Classification after Round 3 Rally d'Italy-Sardinia

1 Kris Meeke (Citroen C2) 16p
2 P-G Andersson (Suzuki Ignis) 15p
= Guy Wilks (Suzuki Ignis) 15p
= Daniel Sordo (Citroen C2) 15p
5 Luca Betti (Renault Clio) 9p
6 Kosti Katajamaki (Suzuki Ignis) 8p
= 2 Urmo Aava (Suzuki Ignis) 8p
8 Alan Scorcioni (Suzuki Ignis) 6p
= 9 Pavel Valousek (Suzuki Ignis) 6p
11 Martin Prokop (Suzuki Ignis) 2p

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