Rd.5 Rally d' Italia Sardegna

  • Country : Italy
  • Date : 21-24/5/2009
  • Road surface : gravel
  • Total distance : 1263.20km


Kosciuszko Retains J-WRC Title Lead in Sardegna

A full complement of four Suzuki Swift Super 1600 drivers took part in the Rally d'Italia Sardegna, Round 5 of the 2009 Junior World Rally Championship, this weekend (May 21-24).  A grueling gravel event on the Italian island saw championship leader Michal Kosciuszko enjoy hard-earned success in the heat and dust of the Sardinian hills.

Day 1 saw the 2-litre Renault of local man Alessandro Bettega lead the way, but by the end of the second morning Kosciuszko began reeling him in and Bettega made a mistake and dropped five minutes off the road, ending his challenge.

This then opened the way for a battle royal between Kosciuszko and Martin Prokop in the Citroen C2, who finished first and second in Sardegna in 2008.  Kosciuszko ended Day 2 with a 16.6 second lead over Prokop with the next two places filled by the Suzuki Swift Super 1600s of Aaron Burkart and Yoann Bonato, while Simone Bertolotti in the fourth Swift Super 1600 crashed out but was repaired to take the Day 3 restart.

Day 3 saw the field go out into long, sweeping stages and Kosciuszko battled in vain to keep the massively experienced Prokop behind him. Two dramatic moments on the first and third stages saw the young Pole drop 27 seconds to his Czech rival, which he was unable to recover, but nevertheless led Burkhart and Bonato to a 2-3 finish, with Bertolotti fighting to the finish despite his earlier incident.

About the Rally d'Italia Sardegna:

Italy's biggest rallying event, its round of the World Rally Championship, has moved from its traditional asphalt-based home in Sanremo to the rough gravel tracks of the island of Sardinia in recent years. The event is typified by blazing skies, fierce heat and extremely rough gravel stages that take a heavy toll on the car and demand the very best reliability.

Suzuki entries on Rally d'Italia Sardegna:

Four Suzuki Swift Super 1600s competed in this weekend's event: the famous yellow colours of Suzuki were carried by the German crew of Aaron Burkhart/ Michael Kölbach (number 31), the Polish pairing of Michal Kosciuszko/Maciek Szczepaniak (number 32) and the all-Italian crew of Simone Bertolotti/ Luca Celestini (number 33). They were joined by the distinctive white car of French pairing of Yoann Bonato and Benjamin Boulloud (number 35).

Michal Kosciuszko
News from Michal Kosciuszko (PL)
  • Born 20 April 1985
  • Co-driver: Maciek Szczepaniak (PL)

Enjoyed a trouble-free run through the 17 special stages in Sardegna, and thoroughly enjoyed going into a pitched battle with his longtime rival, Czech ace martin Prokop, for the J-WRC victory.

“The performance was really strong all weekend, but as always we had to be careful with our tyres as the stages are very tough on them.  We were able to pull back a lot of time on the bigger-engined Renault of Bettega, and when he went off we had a good lead but knowing Martin he was always going to be a threat. After I made a couple of mistakes I really wanted to conserve our points lead in the championship and decided to drive at nine-tenths to ensure we kept the points for second place.”

Aaron Burkart
News from Aaron Burkart (D)
  • Born 20 September 1982
  • Co-driver: Michael Kölbach (D)

Struggled to maintain the pace of the three leading cars on the opening day and found the stages to be incredibly rough on Day 2. Held off all challengers to take a hard-won podium finish.

“This is a seriously tough event and to be honest my main concern was staying on the road a lot of times. The second day was ruined for me by the stage we used for the seventh and tenth stages of the rally, which is an old railway line. Seriously they might as well have left the tracks down there, it was impossible to attack it at competitive speeds. I think in terms of damage limitation we did OK and the podium finish was very welcome.”

Yoann Bonato
News from Yoann Bonato (F)
  • Born 13 May 1983
  • Co-driver: Benjamin Boulloud (F)

The reigning FFSA Suzuki Rallye Cup winner started rallying in 2002 but started the 2009 season with only five WRC events under his belt. His best J-WRC result to date was third in Corsica 2007. Away from rallies he works as a ski instructor.

“I'm learning all the time with each rally, and there was much to learn here in Sardegna. It was about the roughest terrain I have ever experienced and that makes getting a good points finish all the sweeter.”

Simone Bertolotti
News from Simone Bertolotti (I)
  • Born 4 May 1985
  • Co-driver: Luca Celestini (I)

Simone began rallying in 2003. His first world championship rally was Sweden '05 and at the start of 2009 he had nine WRC starts under his belt. Away from rallying he works for his family business and likes basketball.

“It was really disappointing not to be able to challenge for more points or the podium at my home event. Going out on Day 2 wrecked it for me, and after that I just wanted to get to the finish and learn as much as I could so that I can come back stronger at the next event.”

2009 JWRC Rd.5 : Rally d' Italia Sardegna, final results
Pos. No. Driver Car Total Time Diff 1st
1 38 M. PROKOP Citroen C2 Super 1600 4:23:40.6 0.0
2 32 M. KOSCIUSZKO Suzuki Swift Super 1600 4:23:53.8 +13.2
3 31 A. BURKART Suzuki Swift Super 1600 4:31:55.4 +8:14.8
4 35 Y. BONATO Suzuki Swift Super 1600 4:34:45.2 +11:04.5
5 39 A. BETTEGA Renault Clio R3 4:35:40.2 +11:59.5
6 36 H. WEIJS Jr. Citroen C2 Super 1600 4:37:14.2 +13:33.5
7 33 S. BERTOLOTTI Suzuki Swift Super 1600 5:13:03.0 +49:22.4
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