The two-time world rally champion unveils the secrets and behind-the-scenes details of the itinerary that celebrates its 20th anniversary, starting with the grand return of the nearly 50-km-long "Monte Lerno - Sa Conchedda" stage.
15.05.2023 - Tiziano Siviero hit the jackpot bringing back the Monte Lerno stage after nine years, this time in its long version, with a length of 50 kilometers. The co-driver, a two-time world champion who, as we know, was involved in a dramatic car accident on the island of Elba last September 19th, has been diligently working remotely (as he is still undergoing therapy) on the route for the 20th Rally Italia Sardegna.
The Monte Lerno stage will be the final stage on Friday, both in the morning and afternoon. Here is an explanation from Siviero, who is eager to recover as much as possible at a specialized facility, about the 2023 route of the race.
How did you prepare the route for the Rally Italia Sardegna?
The idea came in mid-September before my accident happened, and then we gradually refined it little by little. We set up a team of people who went to the route, namely Vittorio Carlino and Edoardo Di Lauro, who filmed the stages, and I made my choices based on that. Of course, it is not the same as being there in person, but I also wanted experienced individuals like Lucio De Mori and Antonio Turitto to go to the location and confirm my perceptions.
How did the idea of a challenging route with the extended 50 km Monte Lerno stage, arousing curiosity among the professionals, come about?
I have been meaning to do something like this for a few years. In 2014, when I took charge of the route again, we made it 60 km long. Let's say that having a long and challenging stage is somewhat my trademark. Back then, we proposed it as a challenge, just like the Cagliari stage, because we wanted to make an impact and that is also why the rally base was moved to Alghero. This time, the long stage was born out of the desire to include all the most beautiful sections of Monte Lerno and Monti di Alà, ending the stage in the arena of Alà dei Sardi, where the last 2 km are entirely visible for the joy of the spectators.
Where is the famous jump?
It is in the middle of the stage. My intention was to offer a fast stage with an average speed of 100 km/h, considering that there are some slow corners that lower the average speed, especially after the jump. I wanted the drivers to have fun driving, so I asked Vittorio Carlino to drive it safely but as if he were in a race, and he told me it was an amazing experience, confirming that my feelings were right.
Why is it proposed immediately on Friday and not on Saturday?
It is for television reasons: on Saturday, we have to broadcast Coiluna-Loelle live, which, with its 16 km, would have made the loop too long for the tyres if we had Monte Lerno on the same day. And so, we came up with a first stage where we brought back Tantariles after 19 editions, and then after Terranova, drivers will head to Monte Lerno. Tantariles was the first stage in 2004, and the first section is the same as back then, but then we reach the top and can no longer turn right due to crops, so we continue to the left with an unprecedented downhill that should prove very challenging. As for Terranova, we had to make a stage that did not exceed 10 km, so we decided to include the spectacular downhill of Kitzbühel in the final part, which is a welcome return after 10 years.
And what does the Saturday leg include?
For Saturday, in addition to Coiluna and Su Filigosu, we worked meticulously on the Tula stage, trying to make it a difficult and selective stage, with continuous pace changes and a mix of beautiful and tricky surfaces, all enriched with five or six jumps. It is a stage where grip constantly changes, and where you can make a difference. Then in Tempio, we will do the 2005 version, with a completely different final part from recent editions, going from San Bachisio to Agnata, a winding and tricky road that is a slalom where a mistake can cost you a wheel.
Is the grand finale on Sunday a remake of 2021?
As for the Sunday leg, I preferred to keep the same route of two years ago, which was well-received, rather than risking something new, especially since the final stop is also on the beach, as well as the award ceremony after the Power Stage. On top of this, the drivers love the Braniatogghiu stage; some consider it one of the most beautiful in the championship because, apart from a slow kilometer through the houses, it is all very fast with a thrilling ending.
Will you be in Olbia in June?
If it were up to me, I would go there right away. It will depend on my condition. I hope to be there.
Thank you for reading!