Thursday | 11 Jun 2015

Rally Italia Sardegna: Recce notes

After the pre-event recce, the talk in the Alghero Service Park is of a punishing rally ahead, with this year's rough gravel stages showing plenty of car-breaking potential. How bad is bad? We set off to the stages to have a look. Here's what we saw:

This year's Sardinia route is hard to categorise. It offers a complex mix of narrow technical roads, with others that are more open and flowing. The surface is similarly inconsistent, with rough and rocky tracks, smoother sandy stretches and even some patches of concrete thrown in.

One consistent however is the number of rocks around - and not just the ones you can see. Scratch the surface and you'll uncover more, which means on the repeat passes there are likely to be a few sharp surprises lurking on the stages.

1. Olmedo Monte Baranta (SS20 / SS22). About 3km from the start we found this steep uphill section. The surface was loose and it took us four attempts to get up in a four-wheel-drive car, so expect this to be very difficult in a two-wheel-drive... The temptation is to carry lots of speed in the run-up - but do this and the hairpin left immediately over the crest will catch you out.

2. Monti Di Ala' (SS12 / SS17) The photo below shows the inside of a downhill hairpin right (coming from the top left). If drivers are going to stick to the racing line they'll be going straight over these rocks. And that's a risky strategy. The larger rocks appeared well anchored in the dirt - for now - but the smaller ones were already loose.

3. Monti Di Ala' (SS12 / SS17) Looking a bit like the Fafe stage from Portugal, this is actually part of Saturday's route and an example of one of the more open, fast and flowing sections. There is lots of loose gravel on the surface which will make road sweeping especially noticeable here.

4. Montiferru (SS4 / SS10) In a word: rocky. This photo was taken just a few hundred metres from the start line but it's a similar story for most of the stage.

5. Monte Lerno (SS14 / SS19) Here is the landing zone after the famous Micky's Jump, 26.2km from the start. Come Saturday there will be thousands of spectators here watching the cars fly around 40 metres. The jump is one of the few constants on the stage, which this year features lots of new roads. Some of these are newly built and are relatively soft, so expect these to cut up for the second pass.

Photo credit: Omar Avila

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