Drivers will face high temperatures and the most abrasive roads of the season at the upcoming Rally Italia Sardegna [8 - 11 June] - conditions that will place a strong emphasis on tyre management and preservation.
The Mediterranean rally features fast and narrow stages coated with fine and sandy gravel which is swept away by each car. The challenge is different on the second run when drivers have to cope with ruts that become deeper as more cars complete, as well as sharp rocks that are brought to the surface.
With temperatures expected to soar to around 30°C, the championship's Italian counter is an incredibly demanding event for drivers, cars and tyres alike.
Friday's leg features four stages that will be run twice, once in the morning, once in the afternoon. Crews will have to complete each pass on the same set of tyres. Each four-stage sequence ends with the 14km Tergu-Osilo test, which is expected to be the most abrasive of the rally.
“Since the WRC stopped going to Greece, Rally Italia Sardegna is the only event that takes place on such hard ground,” explained Jacques Morelli, manager of Michelin’s WRC programme.
“Tergu-Osilo may be only 14.14km long but it is one of the hardest-wearing stages of the entire championship and forms part of a four-stage loop that totals 64km!
"Although rougher, the other tests tend to be tougher on the cars than on the tyres, especially on Saturday. This is an event that always springs a few surprises.
"I think it’s fair to say that Sardinia is the hardest round of the calendar for the crews and their cars, but recent testing indicates that our tyres will stand up to the ordeal.”
One of the favourites for victory this week, Hyundai's Thierry Neuville acknowledged the challenge that Rally Italia Sardegna poses:
"This is a technical event that we cannot take for granted. The roads are very hard and dry which can be tough on the cars, especially the tyres. Therefore, tyre choice can be crucial depending on road position and will be something we watch closely," he said.
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