3.7 kilometers in one breath

AS experienced the first stage of Rally Italia, the 'shakedown', from the inside, co-driving Andreas Mikkelsen in the Pirelli Citroën C3 WRC.


In the middle of the caravan, a black Citroën C3 WRC awaits its turn. Ahead, Ott Tanak, Thierry Neuville or Takamoto Katsuta. Further back, Teemu Suninen or Dani Sordo, among others. At the wheel, Andreas Mikkelsen, the driver who is developing the tires for the World Rally Championship for 2021 with Pirelli. On his right, one of the three lucky journalists who were able to experience the first stage of the Rally Italia, the shakedown, from the inside.

One by one they start the predecessors, until the moment arrives. Exit control and the countdown begins until the clock resets and Mikkelsen stomps on the accelerator, engaging gear after gear. From the seat on the right you can hardly see anything, as it is too low to improve the center of gravity. Going up you can only see the sky and the branches of the Mediterranean vegetation of Sardinia, but going down you can see the narrowness of the road.

Very slow curves or cattle passages protected with straw bales give way to vertiginous slides in which the pilot does not hesitate to accelerate and engage gears while moving the vehicle at the wheel and stomping on the brake with his left foot, despite the fact that the car hardly fits between the branches. On one of the slopes, the C3 takes off without the 'driver' blinking, even if his troubled companion thinks his heart is going to come out of one ear. As we passed the finish line, we were greeted by Kalle Rovanpera's car overturned, one more reason for 'joy'. The longest two and a half minutes have passed for the sufferer, but the shortest 3.79 kilometers that can be done on a complicated dirt road.

It was Pirelli's departure as the official tire supplier starting in the 2021 season. At their country's rally, the Italians unveiled the compounds that the world's best flyers will use from next season, an action culminating in the Final Power Stage, in which Petter Solberg again drove that same black Citroën, this time with Mikkelsen being the sufferer of the right seat and singing the notes.

Photos from as.com
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