Rally di Roma Capitale: Italian premiere
The European Rally Championship seventh round starts this weekend in Italy.
In the second half of the season Russian Performance Motorsport team starts at the FIA European Rally Championship rounds at full strength, with two crews – Alexey Lukyanuk/Alexey Arnautov (Ford Fiesta R5) and Sergei Remennik/Mark Rozin (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X). Now, after visiting Polish Rzeszow and Czech Zlin, they are waiting for a new asphalt adventure in Italy, where the FIA ERC capital round, Rally di Roma Capitale, will take place.
Even if not to pay attention to the entry list, the Roman rally is still interesting for a number of reasons. First, it is one of the youngest races in the FIA ERC calendar – this year Rally di Roma Capitale will be held for the fifth time, but it has already got high international profile! Second, the rally in Rome will become Italy’s brand new ambassador in the FIA ERC – before the Apennines were presented at the highest European level by such races as Rally Costa Smeralda (until 1992), Rally Piancavallo (until 2000), Rally 1000 Miglia (before 2012) and Rallye Sanremo (2013). Third, Italy has not hosted the FIA European Championship round for four years – and now it should interrupt this pause.
“Adventures” started a few days ago, when the Rally di Roma Capitale organizers could not publish the entry list with the starting numbers for a long time – the rally program set out this document publication on 4 September, but in fact it appeared only in the early hours of 12 September (after numerous claims from all parties – media, fans, participants). And immediately it turned out an interesting detail: the crews performing in the Italian championship (first of all, Paolo Andreucci, Umberto Scandola, Simone Campedelli and the 16-year-old Finn Kalle Rovanpera), stepped back from the European competition and will fight only in their own “niche”, Rally di Roma Capitale – CIR.
There are 44 crews in the international category, but at least one of them has already dropped out – three weeks ago in the Czech Republic the German Marijan Griebel became the Junior ERC U28 Champion ahead of schedule and completed his performance in 2017 season. So all three contenders for the European Champion title start in Rome – Kajetan Kajetanowicz (he intends to climb the podium highest step for the third time in a row), Bruno Magalhaes (in case of failure, like in Poland and Czech Republic, he loses all chances for the crown) and Alexey Lukyanuk (after a terrific triumph in the Czech Republic he is able to reach the vice-champion title, and even fight with Kajetanowicz for the highest one). There is also a fairly strong “second league” – Bryan Bouffier, Nikolay Gryazin, Jose Antonio Suarez, Jose Maria Lopez Planelles, Sylvain Michel. At the ERC-2 standings Zelindo Melegari, Tibor Erdi and Sergei Remennik will meet again – there is no doubt this trio will take the entire podium at the end of the season.
It is worth paying attention to one very important detail – since the Roman rally hosts the FIA European Rally Championship for the first time, all the leaders are in absolutely equal conditions. None of them had previously performed on the local tracks – everything will be decided by their ability to compile the accurate pace notes and quickly get comfortable in new conditions. And also, after all the strongest Italian crews “withdrawal”, no one will prevent the ERC favorites from directly picking a fight with each other. The competition program is a bit extended: on Thursday afternoon – there are free trainings and qualification; on Friday night – there is a Prologue in Rome; the main part of the race will be held on Saturday and Sunday. There are 12 special stages and 203.08 km – the Prologue on Friday (1.8 km), five special stages on Saturday (94.52 km) and six special stages on Sunday (106.16 km).
Official website of the rally http://www.rallydiromacapitale.it/
Official site of the series https://www.fiaerc.com/
Rally di Roma Capitale features 12 all-asphalt stages over a competitive distance of 198.88 kilometres. Leg one covers 94.52 kilometres of timed running with leg two run over 106.16 kilometres.
While the ACI Roma Arena superspecial, which will be run in reverse order, is a mere 1.80 kilometres in length, at 32.70 kilometres, Cave-Rocca S.Stefano is the rally’s longest stage.
1: Rome’s famous Colosseum, which features on the Tour di Roma route, is the largest amphitheatre ever built. Construction began in AD 72 and was completed in AD 80.
2: Rome is one of two European capitals hosting ERC action this season with Nicosia the setting of two Cyprus Rally stages.
3: Italy has celebrated 23 European championship triumphs over the years. Giandomenico Basso and Luca Rossetti are both three-time winners.
4: The commune of event base Fiuggi was made famous by its natural spring water and the healing powers it possesses.
5: Co-driver Maurizio Barone is the only ERC regular with previous Rally di Roma Capitale experience. He partnered Antonio Rusce to seventh place in 2015.
EVENT ESSENTIALS (all timings local and subject to change)
Starts: 16h45, Friday 15 September, Bocca della Verita’, Rome
Finishes: 17h00, Sunday 17 September, Pontile Principale, Lido di Ostia
Headquarters: Grand Hotel Palazzo della Fonte, Via dei Villini 7, 03014, Fiuggi
Service park: Terme di Fiuggi, Via Fonte Anticolana, 03014, Fiuggi
ERC appearances (since 2004 restructuring): None
Stage distance: 198.88 kilometres (94.52kms leg one, 106.16kms leg two)
Liaison: 588.62 kilometres
Total: 787.50 kilometres