Rally d’Italia kicked off yesterday evening in Sardinia and marks Italian driver Max Rendina’s fifth round in his challenge on the WRC 2 Championship Group N Cup. This season, the event’s Service Park has moved for the first time to Alghero from Olbia. The rally this weekend is made up of 17 Special Stages offering a total of 371,94 competitive kilometres.
Following Shakedown Friday morning morning, the rally opened with the 1,30km SSS1 Città di Cagliari this evening following the Ceremonial Start in Cagliari. The first driver to enter SSS1 in front of his home crowd, Rendina was pleased to top the Group N Cup field on the opening Super Special. Now he looks forward to Day One proper tomorrow as he takes on 158,98km of competitive tough gravel stage on his home event.
Familiar with the Italian gravel, Rendina still sees the challenge presented by the Sardinian terrain. However, Rendina and his team hope that they saw the worst of the rally on Shakedown this morning. A small collision approximately 200 metres before the end of the stage left the Roman’s Ralliart Italy-run Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X minus a wheel and in need of urgent repair ahead of this evening’s stage.
This minor incident gave Rendina a fair warning to maximise his confidence on his home rally, but not to push hard. Having learnt the Italian roads in his national championship, he isn’t used to the ruts created by the more powerful WRC cars ahead of him on this event.
Fortunately, the team was able to repair Rendina’s Lancer in time to get to Cagliari for the start. Rendina was delighted at their efforts: “The team really did a great job this afternoon! I’m so happy to be here on my home WRC round that it would have been awful not to be able to start with everyone else this evening! I know the rally’s going to be difficult and I’ll be more cautious after this morning’s incident – especially on the second pass when the stages could be really rough.”
Ralliart Italy Team Manager Bruno De Pianto shared Rendina’s relief to see Cagliari evening: “Sometimes rallies start in an unexpected way, but let’s say – things can only get better! Our technicians did a fantastic job to repair the car in such a short time and I’m sure now that Max will do them proud out on the stages over the weekend!”