Rally Italy will return to its World Rally Championship roots in Olbia this year, with the town of Alghero featuring only as the ceremonial start for the June event.
The event’s base moved from the east coast town of Olbia in 2014 and has remained in Alghero on the west until this year – although last year’s pre-COVID Rally Italy route did include a Thursday night superspecial and an overnight stop in Olbia. When the pandemic hit, the decision was taken for the delayed 2020 event to remain wholly in Alghero.
Now though, it’s a trip down the WRC’s memory lane with a service park based around the archaeological museum in Molo Brin, close to the center of the city where the championship landed for the first time in 2004.
One of the primary complaints about Olbia first time around was the shift to the commercial port’s car park. There’s none of that this time. The service park is just minutes away from the nearest espresso bar in a recently redeveloped region of Olbia.
DirtFish understands the shift has come following a revised commercial agreement on the island, with Alghero returning to host next year’s Italian WRC round ahead of the potential for the two to rotate in years to come.
One aspect of last year’s route which does remain is the format of the event, which will run two stages repeated in the morning before two different stages are run and then repeated in the afternoon. This made life easier logistically to move marshals and safety crews between locations.
Before the relocation to Olbia, crews will stay in Alghero on Thursday June 3, following the ceremonial start. A 5.30am restart is followed by a tire fitting zone and the first stage at 7.50am.
The roads used on Friday and Saturday remain largely unchanged from previous seasons, with the likes of Monte Lerno, Tula, Coiluna and Castelsardo all included.
The transition from Alghero to Olbia means Friday will be one of the season’s longest days, starting at 5.30am with the first car on the road not into service until 8.31pm that evening. The four-stage loop format is also stretching the time from morning to evening service, with Saturday listed for a 14-hour day.
The liaison distances – regularly a bone of contention for the crews with Italian law forcing the road sections to be timed at a lower average speed than on other rounds – are generally shorter out of Olbia.
Sunday’s final day is, of course, heavily revised with the journey from the west coast stages around Sassari incompatible with a finish in Olbia. That means the temporary loss of one of the WRC’s most iconic powerstage locations, on the Porto Palmas beach just north of Argentiera.
Instead, there will be two new stages for the final day. The Arzachena-Braniatogghiu test was used in 2005, while the Aglientu-Rena Majore is new to the World Rally Championship. But it’s not new to Italian rallying, having featured on the route for the Costa Smeralda Rally in the mid-Eighties (pictured above).
Shakedown for this year’s Rally Italy runs in the conventional Thursday morning slot, with a 1.71-mile Loiri Porto San Paolo stage planned south of Olbia.
Thursday June 3
Friday June 4
|Parc fermé out||Alghero||0530|
|Tire zone||Oschiri Stadio||0720|
|SS1||Su Filigosu-Monte Lerno 1 (13.78 miles)||0750|
|SS2||Terranova 1 (9.23 miles)||0901|
|SS3||Su Filigosu-Monte Lerno 2 (13.78 miles)||1040|
|SS4||Terranova 2 (9.23 miles)||1151|
|SS5||Tempio Pausania 1 (7.50 miles)||1451|
|SS6||Erula-Tula 1 (9.28 miles)||1551|
|SS7||Tempio Pausania 2 (7.50 miles)||1741|
|SS8||Erula-Tula 2 (9.28 miles)||1841|
Saturday June 5
|SS9||Coiluna-Loelle 1 (9.32 miles)||0808|
|SS10||Monte Lerno-Monti di Ala 1 (13.72 miles)||0908|
|SS11||Coiluna-Loelle 2 (9.32 miles)||1038|
|SS12||Monte Lerno-Monti di Ala 2 (13.72 miles)||1138|
|SS13||Bortigiadas-Viddalba 1 (8.91 miles)||1513|
|SS14||Sedini-Castelsardo 1 (9.14 miles)||1613|
|SS15||Bortigiadas-Viddalba 2 (8.91 miles)||1743|
|SS16||Sedini-Castelsardo 2 (9.14 miles)||1843|
Sunday June 6
|SS17||Arzachena-Braniatogghiu 1 (9.32 miles)||0808|
|SS18||Aglientu-Rena Majore 1 (4.62 miles)||0908|
|SS19||Arzachena-Braniatogghiu 2 (9.32 miles)||1042|
|SS20||Aglientu-Rena Majore 2 (4.62 miles)||1218|