The factory Abarth team is hoping the luck that has deserted it so far this year will return on Rally Russia, round six of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, next weekend.

Abarth's lead drivers Anton Alen and Giandomenico Basso are both experts on gravel and are looking forward to delivering a stronger showing in Russia.

They hope the gravel event, which is based in Vyborg, will bring about a notable change of fortune.

"We have had a bad start to the championship despite making lots of technical improvements to the car," said Nicola Gullino, the Abarth team principal. "We have been trying our best but we have not had the luck.

"Even in Ypres, when we were not in the top three, the final result did not reflect our performance."

Abarth will be heartened by the fact Alen won the inaugural Rally Russia in 2007 at the wheel of one of the Italian firm's Grande Punto Super 2000s.

"Anton is very quick in Russia but the road surface is a big factor there," Gullino continued.

"In 2007 the road was very smooth, almost like Finland, but the restoration of the roads last year following a tough winter was not so good and that made the road conditions quite bad in some places."