The Monza Rally got underway this afternoon, the event also serving as the final round in the WRC championship. Valentino Rossi is not present, instead competing in the Gulf 12 Hours in January, but this edition of the legendary Italian rally instead sees the debut of Franco Morbidelli, new to the discipline.

Lapping in the snow

The 2020 MotoGP runner-up is competing with his navigator Simone Scattolin in a Hyundai i20 R5 and today he completed his first special. In decidedly wintry temperatures, and after snow yesterday, the stage was particularly challenging, if short, run over 4.33 km of mud, damp and fog.

During yesterday’s sighting laps at Selvino, the drivers were out in the snow, an experience that could prove relevant come Saturday, with snow is also forecast at Monza.

Over the first 4.33 km of the “Sottozero The Monza Legacy” special, Franco Morbidelli was able to get a taste of the technical difficulty of this event.

The Italian concluded fifty-sixth out of 91 teams, completing the special in 4’09’’1. The winner was four-time world champion Sebastien Ogier, navigated by Julienne Ingrassia, in Yoyota Yaris WRC. Ogier stopped the clock on 3’31’’5.

MotoGP: Franco Morbidelli, the unexpected 2020 vice champion

Morbidelli: “A small mistake on the grassy surface”

“It’s really great to be here. It’s fantastic to have the opportunity”, commented Franco Morbidelli at the end of the first special. My feeling improves mile after mile. I made a small mistake on the grassy surface, but it’s all OK. I’m pleased”, concludes ‘Morbido’.

Seventeenth for “rally maestro” Umberto Scandola, navigated by Guido D’Amore, who was fifth among the WRC3s and covered the route in 3’40’’1.

Tomorrow’s schedule

Tomorrow, Friday 4 December, will involve five special stages over three different timed routes within the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.

The day begins at 7.25am. The 13.4 km “Junior” special stage, run largely on asphalt, combines fast and slow sections, broken up by 2.4 km of dirt. The stage will be repeated twice.

Then comes the “Roggia” SS which, at 16.22 km, is the longest of those at the track, enhanced with 3 km of dirt for continual changes of surface and grip. This stage will also be repeated twice.

Lastly it’s the 10.31 km “Grand Prix” SS, the only stage to take place solely on asphalt. This will be repeated once per stage on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Translated by Heather Watson

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