Ott Tänak and Thierry Neuville head for the Italian hills next month to tackle Rally Sanremo in preparation for the FIA World Rally Championship’s first visit to Croatia.

The Ligurian Alps have been a happy hunting ground for Neuville, with the Belgian clinching a Rally Sanremo victory in 2011.

Next month, however, the focus will be firmly on both drivers dialling themselves into the precise requirements of driving their i20 World Rally Cars on asphalt before landing into Zagreb for round three of the WRC season.

Neuville will take the opportunity to further level new co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe’s learning curve. The pair won Rally Il Ciocco e Valle del Serchio in an i20 R5 earlier this month.

World Rally Cars have been permitted entry via an additional event, Rally Sanremo WRC+, which runs all stages except for Saturday evening’s 2km loosener.

The route includes almost 89km of classic speed tests which once graced Italy’s WRC fixture, including San Bartolomeo and Colle d’Oggia.

In addition to the two World Rally Cars, Craig Breen, who joins Tänak and Neuville in Hyundai’s Croatia line-up, will drive an i20 R5 in Sanremo. Pierre-Louis Loubet and Hyundai WRC2 driver Oliver Solberg will make the trip in similar cars, although Solberg will not be present in Croatia.

Junior WRC champion Tom Kristensson will drive M-Sport Poland’s newly-homologated Fiesta Rally3. The Swede makes his first WRC2 appearance in a Fiesta Rally2 in Croatia.