The factory Proton team will delay the start of its Intercontinental Rally Challenge campaign until the Geko Ypres Rally after confirming it will skip next month's Rally d'Italia-Sardegna.

Based in the United Kingdom, the MEM-run squad had planned to enter a brace of Satria Neo Super 2000s on the island event for Chris Atkinson and Alister McRae. It will now begin its programme on the asphalt-based round in Belgium from 24-26 June instead.

"We had looked at starting our IRC programme in Sardinia but we've decided to go for Ypres instead." Team boss Chris Mellors said. "If we'd gone to Sardinia it would have seriously restricted the amount of asphalt testing we'd have been able to do with the car before Belgium. We felt it made more sense to focus on preparing the cars and drivers for Ypres, which is undoubtedly one of the classic European events."

Tom Cave, who had planned to drive a privately-run Satria Neo in Sardinia, has also elected to skip the gravel rally. The 18-year-old wants to get more experience of driving his Proton away from the rigours of a two-day IRC qualifier so will contest a national event in his native Wales instead.