WRC reigning world champion Ott Tänak says next weekend's Rally Italia Sardegna requires preparation for wet weather or other conditions relevant to the time of year.
"Sardinia is usually a hot and difficult rally, but this year the stage takes place later, which can mean difficult weather conditions. Rainy weather can change the nature of the whole rally, so be prepared for different situations," Tänak, who won the 2017 event for Toyota, said.
"The tests will be run on high-grip roads which are tough on the tires. We hope to demonstrate the performance of the Hyundai i20 on its gravel roads and fight for the top spot," he added.
The stage, which takes place in and around Alghero, in the northwest of Sardinia, is usually the first summer race of the season, but thanks to disruption to the calender caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it had been postponed to October.
The race is the penultimate of the season, and with Tänak lying in third place on 70 points, he needs to perform well, and hope his rivals do not, in order to keep any hopes of a back-to-back title alive after a disappointing Rally Turkey, which followed his victory in front of a home crowd in South Estonia nearly a month ago.
Welshman Elfyn Evans tops the table for Toyota on 97 points, with six-time world champion Sebastien Ogier, also with Toyota – the team the Estonian won last year's title with – in second place, on 79 points.
Fifth-placed man Thierry Neuville, Tänak's teammate, said of the upcoming race that: "The Sardinian rally is run on beautiful roads, the test stages are fluid and narrow and fit my driving style."
"We have always shown good speed in this rally and won twice there. The weather may be different and the conditions may be very difficult in the rain, he went on.
The final race of the shortened season is Neuville's home round in Belgium, November 19-22.
Tänak's next-highest finishes came before the coronavirus pandemic, in Sweden and Mexico, where he finished second both times.
Editor: Andrew Whyte