Sardinia: Top 5 highlights
Rally Italia Sardegna marked the midpoint of the WRC season – seven rounds completed and six more action-packed events ahead.
And what a weekend it was! Thierry Neuville snatched victory from Sébastien Ogier in the final Power Stage by 0.7sec – the third tightest finish in championship history.
Before the memories fade, we take a look at our five favourite things about the Mediterranean island encounter.
1. Power Stage
WRC doesn’t come much more exciting than the rally-closing test. Despite a lurid two-wheel moment, when he thought he was about to roll, Neuville overturned a 0.8sec deficit to pip title rival Ogier. And all played out against the backdrop of a dramatic downhill plunge to the beach before a stunning final 1.2km alongside the shimmering sea.
2. Service park
The rally was based in the medieval resort of Alghero, with the service park stretched out on the waterfront alongside the harbour. Come the evening when tired crews and cars returned for much-needed sustenance, local families and tourists turned out in large numbers to enjoy the lively atmosphere and browse stalls selling food, drink, local produce and crafts.
There’s not a lot to dislike about Sardinia in early June. Warm sunshine (eventually!), friendly locals, popular al fresco restaurants and wonderful gelateria (ice-cream shops to you and me) provided a holiday atmosphere. There was plenty of work to do out on the special stages, but with drivers’ partners and children present, there was a wonderfully relaxed feel to the service park.
4. Start ceremony
After Thursday evening’s start podium, the route took competitors through the heart of Alghero’s old town – a great photo op for locals and the WRC’s professional cameramen alike.
Sardinia has a traditional post-event celebration all of its own. Once the formal podium procedures are completed, tradition dictates the winning team members leap into the harbour to continue the festivities. Led by Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai did not disappoint!
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