It was supposed to be, as per tradition in Sardinia, one of the few gravel races of the season delegated to the hard, instead, it was by far the race of the soft. From a tyre point of view, this could be the summary of the eventful and exciting Rally Italia Sardegna 2023, won after numerous twists and turns and changes of leadership by Thierry Neuville on Huyndai.
As a result of the rain, at times torrential, and the capricious and absolutely unusual weather at this period of the year in the north of Sardinia, the tyre strategies and the approach to the race planned on the eve of the event by the teams were completely subverted. Carrying almost the entire weight of the 320 kilometres of a spectacular and unpredictable race were the 12 soft-compound Scorpion SA tyres supplied to the drivers, namely the eight foreseen as the basic allocation for the options, plus the four additional ones for the shakedown, for which they all prudently opted at the first weather uncertainties. The hard compound tyres, on the other hand, were relegated to a secondary role and only made an appearance in Saturday stages, but always in combination with the softs, which ensured grip and reliability even in the most extreme conditions.
Terenzio Testoni, Pirelli Rally activity manager said, “The soft Scorpion tyres, which were the absolute protagonists in last year’s gravel races as well, proved once again that they are highly versatile and multi-purpose, even in such unpredictable conditions and in a rally like Sardinia where the protagonists are usually the hard tyres, nominated as prime this time as well, in agreement with the teams and the Fia, as is the practice. The beauty of rallying, after all, is precisely unpredictability and the consequent ability of drivers and teams to adapt to the most diverse situations. Basically, although subject to high wear, the soft tyres provided an excellent performance, both in terms of grip and reliability on such muddy and uneven terrain. It should come as no surprise that all the crews preferred to persevere with the soft tyres even when they were, inevitably, very fatigued: in such conditions, with a lot of mud and numerous water-splashes, not even a new hard tyre can ever guarantee the grip of a soft compound tyre, even if it is very worn”.
In RC2 Andrea Mikkelsen in a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 won, while in RC3 Finland’s Roope Korhonen in a Ford Fiesta Rally3 took the top step of the podium.
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