Rally d'Italia Sardegna

The 2013 FIA World Rally Championship circus decamps to Sardinia this weekend for Rally d'Italia Sardegna, Italy's championship counter since it switched from the mainland in 2004. The event considered one of the most daunting on the calendar.

The Mediterranean island's stages are predominantly fast and narrow and the terrain is a mixture of flat open areas and undulating tracks through woodland with water splashes and spectacular jumps. The surface is hard with rock-strewn sections and ruts forming after the first pass.

This year the rally has switched from its traditional October date into the intense heat of the Sardinian summer. Last year's four legs of competition are reduced to just two long and arduous days, but the event still packs 304.40km of action into 16 stages before Saturday evening's finish.

After free practice and the Qualifying Stage on Thursday morning, Friday's opening leg lasts a daunting 16 hours and, after a remote service in Sassari, the three tests are repeated in a different order before another service at Olbia's Isola Bianca port area. The day ends with two passes of the Gallura test, north-west of the town; the second in darkness.

Saturday brings another early start and takes competitors to the picturesque forest stages of the Monte Acuto and Gallura areas. The route includes the classic Coiluna - Loelle stage, and the Monte Olia and Terranova tests. The four morning stages are repeated in the afternoon, with the penultimate Monti Di Ala' forming the Power Stage. The finish ceremony has been switched from Porto Cervo to Olbia's Molo Brin Archeological Museum shortly before 19.00.

21st June, 2013