After a chaotic Saturday out in the mountains outside Monza, near Bergamo, Sunday’s itinerary comprises just three tests back within the confines of the circuit.
But if the Monza Rally has taught us anything so far this weekend, it’s to expect the unexpected.
While the opening Grand Prix test will be familiar to the drivers as it ran at the end of both Friday and Saturday, the Serraglio stage makes its first appearance on Sunday and will, ultimately, decide the destiny of this year’s various world championship titles.
SS14 Grand Prix 3 (6.41 miles)
This one, as we’ve reported previously, is much more straightforward than the rest of the weekend’s circuit stages and involves a run around the old circuit loop (clockwise) for the first ‘lap’. Back onto the start/finish straight and the crews then move onto the Grand Prix track and, get, this, they do the whole lap in the right direction. The first chicane is just that!
The potential for any long, snowy, sleety drifts around Parabolica is spoiled by the need to negotiate a couple of chicanes, but otherwise this one is comfortably the clearest of the circuit stages from a navigational – and stage description – perspective.
SS15/16 Serraglio (9.33 miles)
I give up. Seriously. I think I need a significantly sized glass of Valcalepio Rosso (a tidy Merlot-Cabernet blend) or a whole heap of Peroni before I start to try to describe what’s going on with the final two stages of Rally Monza.
I spoke previously about the Costa Valle Imagna stage being a sting in the tail. And the descent to the finish of that mountain road provided a sting within a sting. But this one’s an absolute shocker with 15 surface changes (that’s grassy, cobbles, broken asphalt, good asphalt, dirty asphalt, snowy asphalt, sleety-wet grass… you get the picture) in just over nine miles.
Anybody who thinks this event is done once they come out of the mountains on Saturday night is deluded. There’s more concrete than you could shake a broken wishbone at and enough heavy braking areas to catch out the best of the best.
The start is the same as SS4/5 Cinturato from Friday, then it’s out onto the old loop (southern end), down past the golf course, square left into the infield for a bunch of straights, squares and twiddly bits before arriving on the start/finish straight for Rettifilo. Off into the trees mid-Curva Grande, they’re back on track north of Variante della Roggia, off track again just after what Formula 1 drivers would call Turn 6 (part one of Curve di Lesmo). Back on the gravel, it’s a fast section under a tunnel, hairpin right, around a roundabout and onto the banked section for one last time (anti-clockwise) before the final sequence of 2020 WRC corners: square left into square left, k-right into hairpin-right and hello world champion. Whoever you are.