After the crash-fest of the opening day on Friday, the Rallye Italia-Sardegna lapsed into a virtual coma, from which Mikko Hirvonen emerged victorious.
When cars are separated by more than a minute, nothing much is going to happen. Nothing did. Hirvonen pootled along after the early jostle with his nine-time title-winning team-mate Seb Loeb finished on Friday, the Finn never needing to break sweat after Loeb threw his car at the scenery.
The remaining podium places were taken by M-Sport Ford Fiestas (those of Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tänak), after the works Fords of Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg came to grief on Friday. Mads Østberg was impressive in his drive to fourth place in the Adapta team Fiesta, logging a succession of stage wins to claw back time after being forced to run in front-wheel-drive only on Friday afternoon.
Far and away the most impressive performance of the weekend was, however, that of fifth-placed Sébastien Ogier. In a non-turbo Škoda Fabia S2000, the Frenchman was in electrifying form, taking the outright fastest time on SS5 and keeping ahead of Chris Atkinson’s MINI WRC and Martin Prokop’s Fiesta WRC to the finish. Ogier’s team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen, the 2012 IRC champion-elect, also shone as he seeks to secure forward progress in his career, finishing seventh.
Nevertheless, it was a spectacularly boring affair. Given that most of the field can find their way through the stages of the Rallye de España blindfolded, there are unlikely to be any great surprises there, either.