After the Argentine Sierras, the World Rally Championship is back in Europe, and the drivers are getting ready to hit the tough gravel roads of this marvellous Italian island.
The Rally d’Italia Sardegna, the sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, is another challenge for Pirelli Scorpion tyres – which, for this rally, come with a hard compound and, as usual, cannot be hand-cut.
The Italian rally, seeing its sixth year in Sardinia, will again be based in Olbia, but special stages will bring the teams to the southern end of the island where they will have to face challenging and mostly fast terrain, in places narrow and winding with a sandy surface concealing a hard base: all this will make the second passage even harder and the Pirelli Scorpion tyres will be put to the test together with the skill and precision of the drivers.
The rally course – divided into 17 special stages – is very similar to that of last year, even though two new stages have been added to the second day and the last leg features a special stage which has not been used since 2006.
This will also be the second round of the Pirelli Star Driver programme, an initiative between Pirelli and the FIA which gives five upcoming stars in international rallying (selected from last season) the chance to participate in the WRC.
The first round was the Portuguese Rally at the beginning of April where the young Pirelli Star Drivers took part after having completed an intensive preparation programme.
Five Mitsubishi Evo X Group N cars – one for each driver – are prepared and looked after during the events by Ralliart Italia.
The Portuguese gravel roads were to become the first taste of how difficult the World Rally Championship would be for these promising drivers as they started to familiarise themselves with their new vehicles; now they will really be tested in one of the toughest races in the World Championship and they will have to show what they’re made of.
The other rallies included in the Pirelli Star Driver programme will be held in Greece, Finland, Spain and Wales.
Mario Isola, Pirelli Rally Manager said: “We’re looking forward to competing again in the Rally d’Italia, surrounded by Sardinia’s breathtaking scenery, even though we’re well aware of the tough challenge our tyres are about to face, a challenge they passed last year when the Pirelli Scorpion Hard was first introduced. We’re also excited about watching how our 5 young drivers will manage their second test: during their first WRC event, they showed us how fast they were, now they have to continue gaining experience and kilometres to keep on improving rally after rally.“