Rally Sardinia Preview

Ford Fiesta WRC on rally sardinia 2020

Held in June over recent seasons, this year’s Rally Italia Sardegna was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and it will be staged as an autumn event for the first time since 2012.

The rally features quick, narrow stages with a fine sandy surface that gets swept away by each passing car to leave a rockier, rutted road. The later date means that temperatures are unlikely to be as high as usual, with a greater possibility of rain.

After shakedown on Thursday afternoon, the rally begins on Friday morning with a pair of stages (Tempio Pausania and Erula–Tula) each run twice.

Following an afternoon service in Alghero there will be another two stages, Sedini–Castelsardo and Tergu–Osilo: These will be repeated around 24 hours later to complete a similar format on Saturday after two loops of the Monte Lerno and Coiluna–Loelle tests.

The Sunday is identical to 2019, based on Sardinia’s western coast close to Alghero, with the Cala Flumini and Sassari–Argentiera stages each run twice.

M-Sport have had a particularly busy time being based further than most from the stages the teams compete on.

The team said: The Fiestas arrived back at Dovenby Hall last Monday and, having completed two rallies on the bounce, the technicians had some serious work to do – including a full repair of the damage sustained after Suninen’s excursion on the Rally Estonia Shakedown.

In fact Suninen’s Fiesta didn’t make it back from the paint shop until last Wednesday afternoon, but the technicians buckled down and a couple of late, ‘pie and pea,’ suppers in the workshop ensured the Fiestas were loaded onto the trucks in time for their Saturday morning departure.

Usually, the rally can be summarised in three words: rough, hot and dusty. 2020 had better ideas though, following a reshuffled calendar, the event finds itself in October with much cooler temperatures ushering in a different challenge with higher wind speeds bringing very changeable and unpredictable weather.

The challenge of Rally d’Italia Sardegna is usually characterised by a continuously developing surface as the soft and sandy top surface covers a very hard and immovable bedrock. Should the heavens open the loose top surface will develop into a momentum killing, sludgy buildup pushed to either side of the road revealing a very slippery hard surface underneath.

Careful attention will be needed when it comes to writing pace notes with crews having to work hard when considering how corner speeds, braking points and grip levels will change with weather.

The chances of punctures are usually significantly higher on the island of Sardinia thanks to the unforgiving rocks that line its stages. Tyre changes are a simple but essential practice for crews and those well prepared could reap the rewards as rally could be won or lost on a simple tyre change.