Tuesday | 13 Oct 2020

View from the service park

He wasn’t, was he? Oh yes, he was… Dani Sordo did lots of brave things at Rally Italia Sardegna last weekend, but he saved his greatest act of bravery for Sunday afternoon.

He followed Sardinia’s FIA World Rally Championship tradition and hurled himself into the harbour. Temperature-wise, it was around half as hot as it was when he won and went into the Alghero water in June last year. But 10 times colder when he came out.

Not that it bothered the smiling Spaniard. Ahead of the event, he’d talked of this being his target – but with so few competitive miles since Mexico, the scepticism was inevitable.

In the end, Sordo delivered a beautifully controlled drive to head up a Hyundai one-two with Thierry Neuville’s sister i20 following home.

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The sunshine did its thing and, while autumn in Alghero might not have offered the oven-baked effect of a June date, it was warm enough to keep things interesting.

And the fight – and the friction – at the front of the field, added a few degrees too.

Italy’s always a highlight for rally fans. There’s so much history and heritage, at times it feels like there’s a Martini-liveried Lancia lurking around every corner.

And a real silver-lining to the Covid-19 cloud has to be a second visit of the season to this great motorsport country in December.

Video: Rally Italia Sardegna review

Beyond Lancias and Alitalia-coloured Fiats, the other thing Italy does brilliantly is food. Porcheddu is a Sardinian speciality. Suckling pig is cooked in a wood-fired oven for a couple of hours wrapped with myrtle leaves, then served on a cork tray. It’s unbelievably good.

And once you’re done with that, it’s time to move onto seafood fregola. Fregola means breadcrumbs. It’s a Sardinian pasta made from semolina and rolled into small balls before being served up with everything good from the sea Sordo swam in on Sunday. The broth element of the deal is flavoured with saffron. Again, it’s an unforgettable experience.

It was odd, Sardinia in October. But, standing on the beach in Argentiera listening to the waves crash in as Monday’s storm started to build, watching the world’s finest rally drivers pick their way through the Wolf Power Stage at warp-factor 10, it was just as good as June.