Regardless of predictions, despite the odds, WRC Rally Sardegna 2022 became the real “rally to survive”. The drivers took on one of the toughest challenges of the season. We faced enormous, dangerous tests, and the final Sunday was spent praying that the tires would remain intact.
Heat waves in Alghero or exorbitant temperatures.
Already in Thursday’s shakedown, the weather would be a problem. There was a slight chance of rain at the start of the WRC Rally Sardegna 2022. Certainly, the faith disappeared almost immediately as the sun was too hot.
Drivers received an extra reminder to not forget fire extinguishers in their cars at the start. The weather forecast pointed to 30 C. I can only imagine how hot it got inside the car. Perhaps the temperature inside the closed WRC cars reached +47 C.
With the heat, everything was in motion. Therefore, the battle Yaris WRC cars got the bigger air inlets. The teams glued their rally cars with special materials. Toyota Gazoo Racing drivers Kalle Rovanperä and Takamoto Katsuta, also got special cooling vests. Honestly, it helped, but still not enough. Esapekka Lappi even went to the sauna. One thinks that’s what helped him keep an excellent pace on Thursday and Friday until Finn had to face one of the other problems.
The dust of Rally Sardegna 2022.
Kalle Rovanperä came to Alghero as the leader of the WRC driver’s championship. The young WRC star has already won three rallies in a row: Sweden, the rainy Croatian Rally and the Portugal’ round. He was quick at Thursday’s shakedown, but Hyundai Motorsport driver Thierry Neuville caught the lead and headed for Friday’s start.
Esapekka Lappi, another Toyota Gazoo racing driver who joined the team for the exciting Italian adventure, started very fast and placed in the top 3. But rally racing is always a long and difficult challenge. Besides the high temperatures outside, and especially inside, dust became another problem.
If you thought that the WRC Portugal round was dusty enough, then you just didn’t see the Rally Sardegna. Here the dirty clouds rose behind the car, around the car, in front of the car; dust was everywhere. It just penetrated inside and flew like flour. The poor visibility made managing the already tricky roads even more challenging.
Elfyn Evans damaged the car on Friday’s SS3. The bottom of his Yaris WRC just fell off. Meanwhile, the retirement of Esapekka Lappi became a genuine drama on SS10 Saturday morning, because of all the chances to make a breakthrough on Rally Sardegna 2022.
A very dangerous challenge: rally fans.
You remember the dangerous conditions of rainy and foggy weather in Croatia. In these conditions, it is highly likely for the rally car to lose control and flat out, so all the rally fans stayed far enough away from the track line.
Well, there were too many fearless people in Rally Sardegna 2022. Because in some terms it was possible to manage with the dust and temperatures. While it was hard to control the crowd, people would pop up now and then. The roads on some SS were very narrow, while spectators were so close to the passing rally cars, that sometimes even we just closed the eyes. It was risky, as when Kalle Rovanperä took off on SS6 close to people. Several times, it appeared very dangerous when Craig Breen went on SS4 and into the crowd of spectators.
Thanks to the low speed, no one was injured. Loran Batut’s car stopped and declined stages 8 and 9 following the accident on Friday on SS6. They stopped participants in fifteen cars. The details of the accident have not been disclosed.
Flat-out at every turn of WRC Rally Sardegna 2022.
Saturday became that day when everyone faced problems. There were no drivers who didn’t fly off the route on Sunday. In the background of Thierry Neuville and Elfyn Evans faced problems; Craig Breen and Ott Tanak pushed hard to come to the top. Therefore, Ott Tanak led the standings on Saturday. Dani Sordo, another Hyundai driver, joined the top on SS13. That is how we marked the first pretenders to victory.
Despite the problems, Thierry Neuville continued to drive and was very careful to save the tyres. Dani Sordo raced like a lion. Tanak seemed to have been focused solely on the prize. Therefore, the Estonian driver won the WRC Rally Sardegna 2022. It was a long-awaited victory. The last time Ott Tanak stood on the podium was at Arctic Rally Finland.
That was a long weekend. To call the 2022 Sardegna Rally tough means to say nothing, as it was one of the toughest. And as has become tradition, the winner went to the Alghero harbor. Dani Sordo, Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak did an excellent job. So all these crews deserved today’s winning swim.