2022 Rally Italy form guide

Can anyone stop Kalle Rovanperä in Sardinia this weekend? Here's how the WRC crews fare ahead of Rally Italy

Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen

Just two weeks after Rally Portugal we’re back on another gravel event. This time the World Rally Championship is in Sardinia for Rally Italy, and it promises to be another thriller.

Kalle Rovanperä was victorious in Portugal, despite the unfavored starting position, and now all eyes will be on him to see if the feat can be repeated.

But if it can’t there’s a number of drivers waiting in the wings to spring a surprise and close the margin to the championship leader.

Here’s DirtFish’s form guide to Rally Italy 2022:

#4 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 49th, 3rd, 4th

Last 3 Rally Italy results: DNF, 7th, 3rd

Esapekka Lappi

Back for his first gravel event of the year, having missed Portugal to make way for Sebastien Ogier, Esapekka Lappi has a chance to remedy his shocker in Croatia.

It was a difficult rally with the treacherous conditions and multiple punctures, but Italy is a rally Lappi’s performed well at in the past.

The Yaris is certainly capable of fighting at the very front, so if he can string together a similar performance to the one he produced in 2018, there’s every possibility that he could challenge for the overall rally win.

#6 Dani Sordo/Candido Carrera (Hyundai i20 N Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 3rd, 3rd, 3rd

Last 3 Rally Italy results: 17th, 1st, 1st

Dani Sordo

Dani Sordo has to be one of the favorites to win this year’s Rally Italy, no two ways about it.

As you can see above, his current form speaks for itself, let alone his form in Italy.

He was the silent assassin on Portugal, slowly making his way through the orde, despite it being the first time he’d driven a Rally1 car in anger, and now on one of his favorite rallies he has the potential for a great result.

The only setback that Sordo faces right now is that his Hyundai is lacking some pace compared to Toyota. But if the Toyota drivers do come unstuck, then there’s every reason to expect Sordo to be sat waiting to pounce and claim his third Rally Italy victory.

#7 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (Ford Puma Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 7th, 47th, DNF,

Last 3 Rally Italy results: 7th, DNF, 19th

Pierre-Louis Loubet

Pierre-Louis Loubet has been a new driver since joining M-Sport. The change has given him a refreshed outlook on the WRC and he drove a fine rally in Portugal to end the event as the highest placed M-Sport driver.

It’s fair to say then that while he might not be in the strongest form overall, he’s definitely arriving in Italy with the best outlook from an M-Sport perspective.

A top three result is likely to be out of reach for Loubet, but if he can put together another Portugal performance in Italy, he will definitely make his bosses sit up and take note.

A rally victory might not be on the cards, but a personal best definitely is.

#8 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 6th, 2nd, 20th

Last 3 Rally Italy results: 24th, 6th, 5th

Ott Tänak

Ott Tänak’s Rally Italy form is much like this season – patchy.

Often he’s bang on the pace, but the results haven’t always followed – whether that was his steering jamming in 2019 or suspension breaking in 2021. But he does at least possess pedigree in Italy, having won the event in 2017.

However it’s going to take a real turn in fortune if he is to win in Italy for a second time.

Hyundai is still off the pace, and with only two weeks between events, there’s not much work that could have been done to make up for the speed it was lacking in Portugal.

This will likely be another difficult rally for Tänak, but he will no doubt be ready to pick up the pieces if others falter.

#11 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 5th, 3rd, 2nd

Last 3 Rally Italy results: 3rd, 2nd, 6th

Thierry Neuville

Like Tänak, Thierry Neuville didn’t have the greatest rally in Portugal, and he’s been marred all season by technical difficulties and incidents.

Yet despite that, he’s still finished in the top three in two of the opening rounds and lies second in the standings. There’s no faulting his grit and determination.

As already mentioned, Hyundai lacks pace on the gravel in comparison to Toyota, so an outright victory will be challenging.

But Neuville should be in the fight at least to secure his third podium result of the season.

#16 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (Ford Puma Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 9th DNF, DNF

Last 3 Rally Italy results: 30th, DNF, 36th

Adrien Fourmaux

Adrien Fourmaux eased some pressure from himself with a ninth place position in Portugal, but that doesn’t mean he’s off the hook.

He needs to string together multiple rally finishes, and so it’s imperative that he completes another event unscathed in Sardinia.

But unfortunately history hasn’t been kind to Fourmaux on the Italian front, having failed to complete a single Rally Italy victory without issue.

This time, he must complete the Italian stages cleanly. Do so and he restores even more credibility, but run into problems and he might as well kiss his M-Sport seat goodbye.

#18 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota Yaris GR Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 4th, 6th, 4th

Last 3 Rally Italy results: 4th, DNF, DNF

Takamoto Katsuta

Takamoto Katsuta will be hurting after missing out on a second WRC podium in Portugal, but what better way to put it to bed by jumping back on the horse to tackle another gravel event two weeks later?

Katsuta drove superbly in Portugal, and while Italy will pose a different challenge, there’s no reason why he can’t be in the hunt again.

He’s the most consistent driver in the WRC right now (aside from Rovanperä), so if you’re going to bet on anyone to finish in the top five, Katsuta is one of your safest.

#33 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota Yaris GR Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 2nd, 5th, DNF

Last 3 Rally Italy results: 2nd, 4th, 4th

Elfyn Evans

Elfyn Evans finally got his season properly underway in Portugal with second place. It’s exactly what the Toyota driver needed, and it hopefully kick starts his championship challenge.

But, if he wants to get in the title fight, he needs to start winning and start winning now.

Evans has never won in Italy – with his best finish a second place last year – but with a better position in the road order (fifth), there’s no reason why it’s not possible this time around. He just needs to ensure he keeps Rovanperä at bay for longer than a day.

#42 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Ford Puma Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 8th, 4th, 36th

Last 3 Rally Italy results: 6th, 25th

Craig Breen

What does Craig Breen need to do to get his season back on track? “Not reinvent the wheel” according to him.

It’s been a tricky start for the M-Sport driver, and it didn’t get any better being beaten by Loubet on Rally Portugal, but now he needs to make amends.

He has experience of Italy, but not to the same extent of most of his rivals, so it’s no doubt going to be another tricky rally.

But regardless of that, he needs a strong rally to reassert his dominance as the lead driver at M-Sport.

#44 Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (Ford Puma Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 19th, 15th, 5th

Last 3 Rally Italy results: 26th, 25h, 42nd

Gus Greensmith

Gus Greensmith’s history on Rally Italy doesn’t make for great reading, and neither do his last two WRC events.

He needs a change in fortune. It can be done, he proved that on Monte and Sweden, but now he needs to show it on the gravel.

It won’t be an ideal rally for Greensmith, considering he will be using Sebastien Loeb’s setup for this round, but he needs to make the best of a bad situation to get his first strong result in Sardinia.

Top five will surely be his aim.

#69 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 1st, 1st, 1st

Last 3 Rally Italy results: 25th, DNF, 9th

Kalle Rovanperä

Three wins on the trot, leading the championship by 46 points, Kalle Rovanperä’s in a league of his own right now.

But this is rallying, anything can happen, and Rally Italy hasn’t been particularly kind to him over the last few years.

There’s no denying that he is capable of winning. He goes into the event as the clear favorite, despite running first on the road. But there’s also the prospect that Italy could be his achilles heel.

With bad past experiences on the Sardinian stages, there’s every possibility that those memories could cloud his mindset slightly. But as he’s shown every round this year, that’s unlikely. He truly is the iceman.

Forget about who can win Rally Italy. The real question is can anyone stop Rovanperä winning Rally Italy?

Words:Rob Hansford