Overshadowing a maiden Formula 1 win for Pierre Gasly and AlphaTauri-Honda (admittedly, only in terms of the name) at Monza wouldn’t be easy this year. But the World Rally Championship might just make it happen.
There’s increasing speculation that the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza could provide the finale to what’s already been a slightly strange WRC season.
While the northern Italian circuit has always been known as a F1 venue, it does have strong credentials as a rally, with an annual event running there since 1978.
More recently, the 100-mile event has been won by nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb (in 2011) and is now seen as an increasingly important marketing event for WRC manufacturers – three years ago Hyundai Motorsport stars Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen shared an i20 WRC and co-drove for each other.
The Milan track is now being touted as a potential final WRC round of the season from December 3-6.
With Rally Turkey running this week and the Sardinia and Ypres rallies coming in October and November, series officials are keen to include one more scoring round. Croatia is still being discussed, but the case for Monza is getting ever stronger.
One series insider told DirtFish: “Monza would make a lot of sense for the WRC. OK, nobody’s kidding anybody that it would be an event to rival the great Sanremo Rallies DirtFish loves to talk about, but there’s enough mileage in the circuit to make it interesting.
“It would be a single-venue event on a grand scale and at a very high level. For the manufacturers, it offers a cost-effective finale and, if regulations allow, we could bring spectators in in a very controlled fashion.”
Even if the event doesn’t run to a full WRC level, it could run as a showcase event or with the WRC Promotional status which Rally Estonia carried last season.
A WRC presence at the Monza Rally Show would also offer the perfect platform for Pirelli to launch its full-time WRC return as control tire supplier at the start of next season. And, as if that Italian input’s not enough, there’s a certain Doctor who’s gone quite well there in the past.
The prospect of Valentino Rossi chasing an eighth Monza win in the face of the world’s finest rally drivers would offer a mouth-watering end to what’s been a tricky season.