The Italian Almanac

Soldberg's car

Italian Sport - April 28

Championship leader Petter Solberg is confident of a second consecutive triumph in the Rally of Italy, which gets under way today. "Sardinia should be a very good event and I think we have a strong chance," said the Norwegian, who has already won in both Sweden and Mexico this year.

The rally in Sardinia will be the second on the island after the switch from the Italian Riviera. Driver complaints last year have led to major changes to the course. However, the rally, which has been moved forward from September, will continue to be run on sandy gravel tracks.

That should favour Solberg in his battle to wrest the world title from Frenchman Sebastien Loeb, who won last time out in New Zealand to draw to within a point of the Subaru driver at the top of the standings.

The rally opens with a special exhibition stage in Porto Rotondo this evening and returns to the Costa Smeralda resort 17 stages later for the finish on Sunday.