Italy’s round of this year’s World Rally Championship in Sardinia is expected to be confirmed imminently in a late October date for the first time since Mikko Hirvonen took his final WRC victory in 2012.
A return to Rallye Sanremo, which hasn’t hosted a WRC round since 2003, has long been hankered after but the service park’s highest-profile Italian – Andrea Adamo – says it’s time to put away the rose-tinted spectacles and face reality.
Sardinia has always polarized opinion. Post-2003, it took a good decade for plenty of folk to forgive Olbia for not being Sanremo – the mainland town that had been the beating heart of Italian rallying for decades. And generations.
Rally Italia-Sardegna’s decision to switch east for west and move its WRC round to the infinitely more appealing backdrop of Alghero brought some acceptance that the Italian island might have earned its stripes and its position on the calendar.
But still, there are plenty who hanker after a mainland return and a few days on the autostrada dashing between the foothills of the Ligurian Alps and Tuscany.
Hyundai Motorsport’s team principal is more pragmatic than that. Nobody loves Rallye Sanremo more than Adamo, but he knows the moment has passed. Sanremo’s had its WRC day.
“Sanremo died because of the success of the rally,” Adamo told DirtFish. “Look at the video from the Saturday, it was incredible to have so many people. The people would be too many, they would block the stages.
“I don’t know how, honestly, if you can organize a WRC event in those stages now. Without forgetting that more and more the old, old houses around there have been rebuilt and there are more wealthy people going there at weekends and they would not love to have these fast cars passing by their big house or holiday house.
“Another thing for Sanremo – but also for Tuscany – is that most of the gravel rally stages have been paved. Where the gravel is still there, still there are these old houses that have become a resort, villas owned by rich people. You cannot think to lock everything down for a rally there anymore.”
Asked what Italy’s best bet for a WRC counter would be, Adamo replied: “Sardinia is the best that Italy can offer.”