The penultimate round of the World Rally Championship (WRC) 2020 season started on Thursday in Sardinia, with a warm-up shakedown stage. Reigning world champion Ott Tänak (Hyundai) and season leader Elfyn Evans (Toyota) shared the fastest time ahead of Friday's competition.
The fastest time of 2:13.6 in the shakedown stage was shared by Estonian pair Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja and Welsh driver Elfyn Evans, along with his co-driver Scott Martin.
Driver rankings second place man Sebastien Ogier (Toyota) put up a time of 2:14.4 and Dani Sordo (Hyundai), winner of last year's Rally Italia, came three tenths after him.
Rally Italia began horribly for Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota), who put up the best time of the shakedown's first pass but rolled through the finish at too high a speed and drove out of a curve, rolling his car over. The Finn, along with co-driver Jonne Halttunen came out the crash fine.
Bit of an oopsie in the shakedown. We carried too much speed through the finish line and I couldn't get the car slowed down enough for the following corners and we rolled gently.— Kalle Rovanperä (@KalleRovanpera) October 8, 2020
Sorry to the team for the extra work????
Car should be okay for tomorrow!#KR69 #RallyItaly
???? #WRC pic.twitter.com/VCOTxPlfA4
The rally will begin with a difficult stage as while the roads of Italy are fine in warmer months, the fall rain has made them volatile and wet. SS1 Tempio - Pausania 1 will begin at 8.50 a.m. on Friday. The full schedule and further information is available here on ERR News.
Portal: WRC season could be finished after this weekend
Rally portal DirtFish wrote on Thursday that uncertainty over Belgium's coronavirus situation could nix the final round of the WRC season.
Ypres Rally Belgium, similarly to WRC Rally Estonia, was added to the revised WRC season after the coronavirus pandemic suspended the season. While Rally Estonia was a success, with only one person falling ill at the event, the situation worldwide has changed and while Ypres Rally officials are adamant there are no issues with next month's proposed WRC finale, the rising number of coronavirus cases are understood to be increasing pressure on all events in the region. The organizers of the Tour of Flanders cycle race have made changes to their route to avoid the Grote Market – the service park for the WRC event, DirtFish wrote.
In addition to the virus, the portal wrote that uncertainty around travel restrictions adds to the possible cancellation of Ypres Rally. The most optimistic scenario still sees the season extended to eight rounds as WRC promoters are in talks with the Italian motorsports association to host an additional event at Monza in December.
The current schedule, as of the International Automobile Federation's (FIA) webpage sees Ypres Rally as the final round of the season on November 19-22.
According to FIA, seven rounds of the season have to be completed to decide the title and with Rally Italia just having started, that will make it six. Until the COVID-19 pandemic, three rounds were completed, which has led the association to look into alternative options.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste