Asphalt-rally specialist Stephane Sarrazin will join Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson when Subaru field a three-car team in Rally Sardinia this weekend. And although the Frenchman recently tested on gravel, he expects the event to be a big challenge.

Asphalt-rally specialist Stephane Sarrazin will join Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson when Subaru field a three-car team in Rally Sardinia this weekend. And although the Frenchman recently tested on gravel, he expects the event to be a big challenge.

Sarrazin will compete in three asphalt rallies this year and spent the last week driving the latest-spec Impreza on gravel to adjust his driving style. Driving Subaru's third car, Sarrazin has said that his primary focus this weekend would be to complete the rally, rather than match the pace of the more experienced Solberg or Atkinson.

"I've spent time testing on gravel, and the feeling is good," Sarrazin said. "It was my first time on a loose surface and I'm happy with what we've achieved in a short time.

"The Impreza's grip on gravel is better than I thought and things seem positive. The driving style is only slightly different to asphalt so I'm not modifying things too much. I'm just thinking about starting the recce.

"It's the first gravel rally for me, so I'm going to be concentrating on learning, progressing and getting experience. I have a good car, but it's all still very new to me."

Current points leader Petter Solberg was at the helm of the winning car in last year's inaugural Rally Sardinia, and is hoping this weekend's weather conditions will aid another victory. Expecting cooler temperatures, the Japanese team has elected to use the softer compound Pirellis, which traditionally perform well in these conditions.

Solberg said: "Sardinia should be a very good event and I think we have a strong chance of winning it if everything works out well. It's a different rally to New Zealand as it's more twisty, and that, along with the temperatures, is better for the tyres. I'll be running first on the road again, but that's the price you pay for leading the championship, but I'm not complaining."

Subaru team boss David Lapworth said that the event's shift from October to April could have an effect on how the rally is run.

"In terms of air temperature and rain statistics, it's likely to be a little cooler with a little bit more rain," said Lapworth. "The other thing that's different is that we're looking at stages after winter, rather than after summer. The effect of rain at this time of year is more dramatic as the ground cannot soak up large quantities of water. Its already damp underneath so will be likely to remain wet for longer."

Original article from Car