VIDEO | WRC – Sun shines on Rally Italia – Preview

WRC | 2015 World Rally Championship – Rally of Italy Sardegna | Preview

Written and Images byMichael Vettas

As the World Rally Championship (WRC) heads towards the middle of the 2015 series, this week team’s travel to Italy for the much anticipated Rally Italia Sardegna.

At this event last year, Sebastien Ogier narrowly beat Mads Ostberg for the win pushing championship contender and Volkswagen Motorsport team mate, Jari-Matti Latvala back into third position.

The event is centred around the tourist town of Alghero, located on the west coast some 200km from the capital of Cagliari, it sits at the most southern tip of the island.

Teams begin the event in Alghero for the official shakedown before moving to Cagliari for Super Special Stage which could eclipse last year’s spectator numbers.

With valuable lessons learnt by the rally organisers in 2014, a number of stage routes have been changed this year although they have retained the traditional stage names such as Monte Lerno with the infamous Mikki Jump.

Rally organisers will also be better prepared this year to handle large crowd numbers with last year’s Cagliari stage being cancelled due to safety concerns as the 27000 rally fanatics spilled out onto the circuit.

Beginning 130km south of Alghero, Friday will mark the longest day on the WRC calendar with teams starting the final stage at 1945 with service set to close at 2300 hours.

Alongside deep grooves and volleyball sized rocks, Friday’s stages will have a high attrition rate with many teams reporting they are the roughest roads on the calendar. Drivers have even likening the coarse roads to that of the now defunct Acropolis Rally.

Images by Michael Vettas

Fans will flock to the best vantage points over the weekend but Saturday will draw a huge crowd as devotees arrive early to witness their favourite drivers fly through the air as they take on the huge Italian jumps.

Sunday will conclude with four stages including the spectacular but difficult Power Stage. For maximum points, drivers will need to be at their best not to hit the unforgiving sandstone brick walls that line the final stage.

The start of the rally marks a significant point in New Zealander Hayden Paddon’s rally career with Italy signalling his first full year in the FIA WRC driving for Hyundai Motorsport.

Ogier will be looking to capitalise on his championship points lead with a solid first day although like Rally Portugal, it’s uncertain how his starting position will affect his chances for back to back victories here in Italy.

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