Sun-Soaked Sardinia To Provide Bruising Gravel Battle | 2 June 2017
The conditions on next week’s Rally Italia Sardegna are set to be some of the toughest of the season, with soaring temperatures, demanding roads and rugged mountain stages coming together to wage war on competitors.
Round seven of the FIA World Rally Championship on the Mediterranean island marks the half-way point of the season in sundrenched style. But the summer temperatures and baked special stages are set to be a real test for man and machine.
Elfyn Evans and Dan Barritt are well-aware of the event’s challenge. Low average speeds mixed with short, sharp corners and roads littered with rocks and lined with trees mean there’s no margin for error.
Their expertly-built M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC can cope with the demands of the island tracks and they will predominantly use DMACK’s hard compound GH23 tyres for the first time this season. Conditions can become rough and rutted, especially on the second pass, with sharp rocks an ever-present hazard.
The low speed roads also change the demands placed on tyres with more longitudinal stresses on the tyre carcass rather than the side forces usually experienced on gravel events.
The event starts from its base in Alghero on Thursday evening but has an overnight halt in Olbia on Thursday night. A remote tyre fitting zone on Friday kicks off the real action with two passes over a loop of four stages to the west of Olbia.
Saturday is the longest day with 143km of action and a 5am start, before four short stages on Sunday close to Alghero round off the weekend.
Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: “From a tyre perspective, this is probably one of the toughest events of the season. We’ve improved the durability of our tyres significantly since last year, so we are confident from a performance aspect. However, the conditions, especially on second pass, are some of the hardest we’ll encounter.”
Elfyn Evans, DMACK WRC driver, said: “With high temperatures and the traditional rough roads, Sardinia is set to be a real challenge. From a driver’s perspective it’s important to be physically prepared and properly hydrated as it’s always a hot and busy rally. Road cleaning on the first pass is an important factor so it will be interesting to see how that works out.”