International rallying’s Italian return to run without spectators

The cooperation, and absence, of fans is critical for Rally del Casentino


Rally del Casentino director Loriano Norcini has urged the public to respect the closed-door policy for his event which is set to re-start the sport in Italy next weekend.

The Bibbiena-based International Rally Cup season opener starts with a shakedown on Friday July 3 before the first of six stages on Saturday.

Fans will not be permitted access to any of the action or to the service park, which will be fenced off. For the teams and organisers, all coronavirus precautions including social distancing and temperature checks will be completed throughout the event.

Norcini, president of rally organizer Scuderia Etruria, said the success of Italy’s first rally since March will lie in the hands of the fans.

“We had studied many things to celebrate the 40th edition of the Casentino Rally, but we never imagined it would be the race that starts the engines again after these difficult months,” he pointed out.

“We know we will have our eyes on us and for this we need the help of everyone, enthusiasts and service personnel [who] will have to respect the protocols and procedures.

“If you like this sport, the public must meet us and must understand, you will not be able to attend the special stages. The start, finish and all the other locations do not provide for the presence of the public.

“We had to revolutionize our organizational methods, adapt and we will try to meet the demands of the police station and the prefecture. The start and finish will be isolated, the service park closed and fenced. Those who love our sport must make a sacrifice and help us by staying at home.”

Three stages, Corezzo (12.15 miles), Crocina (13.84 miles) and Rosina (4.64 miles), will be run twice on Saturday with Andrea Crugnola’s Citroën C3 R5 among the leading entries.

Rally di Roma (July 24-26) follows three weeks after Rally del Casentino in Italy, with Rally di Alba running in the first week in August.

Rally Sweden Lockdown marked the sport’s high-profile return, but sprint and test events have been running around the world since last month. There are rallies lined up in Serbia, Hungary and Czechia this weekend with Portugal’s Rali de Castelo Branco set for the same weekend as Casentino.