WRC teams’ logistical jigsaw
Back home or stay away? The big question
• There are few more photogenic start locations than Alghero. Relax in one of the many typically Italian cafes and watch the WRC stars depart on Thursday evening against a stunning backdrop of the town’s leisure port.
• Micky’s Jump - one of the WRC’s iconic locations in Saturday’s Monte Lerno stage. The steepness of the take-off, combined with the proximity of a sharp left-hander shortly after, make it a must-see.
• Pay a visit to the podium ceremony in Alghero on Sunday afternoon. After the trophies and anthems are done, it is traditional for the winning team to dive en masse into the harbour to cool off.
• Fancy an ice cream? As well as hosting one of the championship’s most picturesque service parks, Alghero’s historic harbourside is rammed with a mouth-watering selection of Italian gelateria.
Tiziano Siviero, who won the 1988 and 1999 world titles alongside fellow countryman Miki Biasion, is the man behind the itinerary and explained his thinking to make only minor changes to the route.
“We decided to confirm the itinerary of the past three editions because they are homogeneous, easy to run and met the appreciation of drivers and teams,” he explained.
Easy to run, maybe, but far from easy to drive. Narrow and fast rock-lined gravel roads leave no margin for error. Sandy tracks give way to bedrock and big ruts when they are repeated and air temperatures above 30°C make life tough for drivers, cars and tyres.
The rally begins at Thursday night’s short Ittiri Arena show stage, at a former motocross track where two cars at a time tackle two laps.
The action gets serious on Friday morning with four stages north-east of the Alghero service park that are repeated in the afternoon. Tula (22.25km), regarded as the most difficult test of the weekend, and Castelsardo (14.72km) both contain minor changes. Tergu-Osilo (14.14km) and Monte Baranta (10.99km) lift the day’s total to 124.20km.
Saturday is the longest and toughest. Coiluna - Loelle (14.97km) and Monti di Ala’ (28.21km) are followed by Monte Lerno (28.03km) and its famous Micky’s Jump, where cars fly high as the road literally drops away beneath them. All three are driven twice.
The latter two are split by a liaison section of less than 1800 metres and Siviero has no doubts Saturday’s 142.42km are where the rally will be decided.
“The whole Monte Lerno area that will house six tests is a classic of this rally and a place where the best have managed to set their pace inflicting important gaps. This is going to be an important test for all title contenders,” he said.
Sunday is identical to 2018, comprising a double run through Cala Flumini (14.06km) and Sassari-Argentiera (6.89km), north of Alghero. The second pass of the latter forms the Wolf Power Stage, its final kilometre alongside the sea providing stunning views.
The 19 stages cover 310.52km in a route of 1377.58km.