Having won on his debut with the new Skoda Fabia S2000 last time out in Norway, Patrik Sandell will look to extend his lead at the top of the Production World Rally Championship standings as the series heads to Cyprus for round two this weekend.
The Red Bull Rally team driver dominated the Norwegian event and set no fewer than eight fastest stages times en-route to victory, which was also the first win for an S2000 machine in the World Rally Championship.
Sandell now goes into the event in Cyprus as the favourite to add to his win and he said he was looking forward to the challenge that the mixed-surface event is likely to provide as he seeks to strengthen his position as championship leader.
“Evidently everything's new for me as well since it's my first start in Cyprus. But I'm looking forward to what things may come in a very positive manner, I'm always glad to be confronted with new challenges, because I can only come out stronger. In any case I'm going to Cyprus in top condition, I've been working out very hard over these past few weeks.
“It's not crucial whether I'm in front on Friday or on Saturday. The important thing is that we score as many points as possible in Cyprus. Of course it would be best to win again.”
Team boss Raimund Baumschlager said he was hopeful that the lighter S2000 car would prove to be beneficial to the team on the opening leg, when crews will run on gravel tyres through the asphalt stages.
“The first day is made up of tarmac stages which have to be run on gravel tyres as per FIA guidelines,” he said. “A circumstance that requires tactical aptness in order not to let the tyres degrade early, since the opening stage is already more than thirty kilometres in length. But I nevertheless see the advantage in this constellation on our side, since our car is much lighter as far as weight is concerned than the competition from Mitsubishi and Subaru. This should be noticeable when it comes to tyre wear.
“Our goal is to establish a lead on Friday to then go easier on the equipment on Saturday, when the surface of the stages will be hard gravel.”