When you’re on another continent, the decision is made for you. Bringing World Rally Cars back to Europe for the week between Xion Rally Argentina and Copec Rally Chile made no sense.
But what about between Vodafone Rally de Portugal and Rally Italia Sardegna? That’s different. Being in Europe, the temptation is always to get the cars back into the workshop to re-prepare them after Matosinhos and ahead of Alghero.
This time, the teams were divided. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team and Hyundai Motorsport went home, while Toyota Gazoo Racing and Citroën Racing stayed on the road.
In terms of geography, nobody had further to go than M-Sport and the man to take the Ford Fiestas from Portugal to Sardinia, via Cumbria, was Bob Baker.
Bob departed Matosinhos hours after the finish of round seven and headed north for Bilbao and a boat back to Britain. Having driven England from bottom to top, the cars were back in the factory first thing Wednesday morning.
Working round the clock, M-Sport had Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen’s Fiestas back on Bob’s truck to head south on Friday afternoon. The weekend took the cars through France and into Italy for a ferry from Genoa to Sardinia for a Tuesday morning arrival in Alghero’s seafront service park.
Where M-Sport went north, Hyundai and Toyota went east, but the i20s went further than the Yaris WRCs. The Hyundais went back to base in Alzenau for three days before departing for round eight.
Toyota was bound for the Spanish workshop used during a period of intensive testing in 2016 while the Yaris was being developed ahead of its WRC debut. The three factory Toyotas were prepared in Vic and joined by a fourth car from Estonia to be run in Italy by Tommi Mäkinen Racing and driven by Juho Hänninen.
As was the case between the South American events, all four manufacturers had spare World Rally Cars built and ready to go back at base.
Citroën pressed its spare C3 WRC into action after Esapekka Lappi rolled his car on the final day in Portugal. The Finn’s machine wasn’t badly damaged but team principal Pierre Budar said it was simpler to send a new chassis from Citroën Racing HQ in Paris.
“It’s easier for us to fix that car back in Paris,” said Budar, “and we have the new car ready to go directly to Sardinia for Esapekka.”
Citroën remained in the Portugal service park into last week, working on Sébastien Ogier’s car in Matosinhos before driving directly across Spain to a boat bound for the Italian island.