The roar of engines, the skill of the drivers, adrenaline and captivating landscapes. In 2023, the Rally Italia Sardegna celebrates its twentieth anniversary, as always in the name of entertainment, emotions and breathtaking scenery. Alternating with the previous edition in Alghero, the ‘epicentre’ of the event - valid as the sixth round of the 2023 World Rally Championship – is in Olbia: the service park is set up at the Brin pier, a stone’s throw from the centre of the ‘capital’ of Gallura. It’s an opportunity to admire the intriguing mixture of contemporary mood and the legacy of the past, narrated in the archaeological museum. Another attraction not to be missed is the ancient basilica of San Simplicio. The city looks out over the spectacular gulf right next to the Costa Smeralda with a series of alternating picture postcard beaches along its coast: Porto Istana, in the Tavolara Marine Area, the Playa di Pittulongu and, to the north, Bados, Marina di Cugnana and Portisco.
74 teams at the starting line, representing 27 countries, a new record for the event. All the big names are present, starting with the eight-time world champion Ogier. With him, there are two other World Championship winners, Tanak and Rovanpera, as well as protagonists of the circuit like Loubet, Neuville, Evans and Sordo. Also up for grabs are the titles for the WRC2 and WRC3 minor and junior world categories. The programme includes surprises and eagerly-awaited comebacks: 19 special rounds, divided into three stages, making a total of 334,65 timed kilometres, all on dirt track. The shakedown is scheduled to take place in Loiri Porto San Paolo on the morning of Thursday 1 June, while the special opening round will, like last year, be at Cabu Abbas. On the morning of Friday 2 June, the engines will be roaring again - after twenty years - in the special round at Tantariles; meanwhile, after an absence of nine years, the historic Kitzbühel descent is included in the special round in Terranova.
Every round is repeated twice - the second time in the afternoon. Another novelty of the 2023 edition is the ‘long’ version - almost 50 kilometres - of the Monte Lerno special round, during which drivers face the famous and spectacular Micky’s Jump, a ‘symbolic’ moment of the rally: it has always taken place in the 19 earlier editions. The route also includes stretches covered in the previous years, in the ‘Monti di Alà’ round. The backdrop consists of the scenery of Monte Acuto, between the mountains of Alà dei Sardi and Buddusò: rugged elevations with bizarre sculptures shaped by the wind, forests, dizzying valleys with streams, little lakes, waterfalls and flat dirt roads, ideal for the special rounds of the world championship. Alà and Buddusò are two true ‘granite villages’, located atop scenic plateaus and surrounded by archaeological evidence, such as the nuraghe Loelle and the sanctuary of sos Nurattolos.
Saturday 3 June is the most intense day. The day begins with two classic stages - Coiluna-Loelle and Filigosu, also in the Monte Acuto area. Then comes the part that runs from Erula, a little village in the Anglona area, featuring a ‘scattered’ urban centre, typical of the Gallura stazzi, to Tula, a pretty village in the Logudoro area with a view of Lake Coghinas and surrounded by valleys and woods. The fourth round takes place back in Gallura, at Tempio Pausania: the little village stands at the foot of Mount Limbara, is characterised by paved streets and granite buildings and is famous for cork, muscat wine and allegorical carnival. At the beginning of 2023, it entered the club of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Here, the drivers will cover just over ten kilometres, before a little break, after which they’ll repeat the show in the afternoon.
Final stage on Sunday 4 June - about 46 kilometres to be covered entirely in the territory in the north of Gallura. There are four special rounds, with two passages in Braniatogghiu and the famous Power Stage in Aglientu, where the second round, just after midday, will be broadcast live on television throughout the world. The background to the route is the splendid beach of Rena Majori and the coast to the south of Santa Teresa Gallura. There are plenty of wonders to admire in its territory: Capo Testa, with the beaches of Rena di Ponente and Rena di Levante and the picturesque Valle della Luna (Valley of the Moon), the ‘city’ beach of Rena Bianca and the coasts of Santa Reparata and La Sciumara, a favourite hotspot for surfers. The prize-giving ceremony takes place in Olbia and, in keeping with tradition, the winner will celebrate with the whole winning team by diving into the water at the port.