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WRC Preview: Rally Italy Sardinia

Written by Katie Gregory, Edited by Debargha Banerjee

Image Credit - FIA

After a turbulent weekend in Portugal, the World Rally Championship contenders  will face another tough gravel challenge as the series heads to Italy. With the rally marking twenty years since Sardinia first hosted the Italian round of the WRC, it will introduce a new action packed format - which will condense 266.12 km of competitive action into just 48 hours. 

With its narrow, technical, and fast stages, this weekend promises to be as demanding as ever. As cars begin to pass through, the sandy surface will soon turn to a rocky and abrasive base.

Temperatures north of 30°C promise that both cars and tyres will be punished by the scorching Sardinian sun. Drivers later in the running order will benefit from cleaner, more stable stage conditions, so road position will be worth paying attention to - as well as the weather forecast. 

There will be an extreme emphasis on tyre choice this weekend, with crews searching for reliability and longevity without compromising on speed. The heat will add unparalleled pressure to engines and drivers alike; meaning both man and machine will need plenty of endurance to see it through.

Image Credit - Red Bull Content Pool

With the action and entertainment that this rally promises, it is no surprise it has amassed a record-breaking entry list boasting 87 teams from 33 different countries. Each contender will have to utilise their experience perfectly and will need a faultless weekend to see their efforts rewarded.

Manufacturer’s Championship leader Hyundai looks very strong going into this weekend, having won the last five out of six times here. Championship leader Thierry Neuville has three past wins at Rally Italy, having claimed victory in 2018, 2020 and 2023. Neuville leads the championship by a mega 24 points, courtesy of an impressive performance in Portugal. 

Another serious contender from Hyundai will be Ott Tänak, who won here in 2017 and 2022. A series of competitive drives has left him third in the championship standings, and the momentum of his third place finish in Portugal could see him snatch victory away from Neuville this weekend.

Worthy competition for his teammates will be Dani Sordo, who completes Hyundai’s lineup. The 2019 winner finished closely behind his teammates in Portugal, and brought home  fifth place.

Ott Tänak and his co-driver Martin Järveoja after winning in 2022; Image Credit - WRC

Looking equally as competitive is Toyota, who are currently second in the Manufacturer’s championship by a mere four points. Toyota driver Sébastien Ogier has won Rally Italy more than anyone else, having secured victory four times.

The Frenchman's outstanding record places him as Toyota's best opportunity to win and the driving force in closing the gap to Hyundai. In it’s efforts to escape second place, Toyota will need Takamoto Katsuta and Elfyn Evans to put in strong performances of their own. 

The weekend will begin with Shakedown on Friday morning, which will be followed by two stages to be driven twice around Osilo in the afternoon. Saturday will be the longest day of the event, with the crews covering 1490 km in just 12 hours. Sunday will conclude the weekend with four stages, including the Power Stage of Sassari. 


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