ERC 2019 season recap: Rally di Roma Capitale
Double ERC champion Giandomenico Basso scored his first FIA European Rally Championship victory in six years with top spot on Rally di Roma Capitale.
The Loran SRL-entered Italian was in the podium places from the opening test and took a lead he would not relinquish on stage four when Andrea Crugnola punctured. Basso’s only mistake of note was overshooting a junction on stage 13, which cost him around 24 seconds and nearly put him within Simone Campedelli’s reach.
Afterwards, Basso’s co-driver Lorenzo Granai explained that his compatriot had endured a tough event following the passing of a close friend shortly before the start in Rome on Friday.
“We wanted to make a very good race for what happened to the best friend of Giandomenico,” said Granai. “We had a difficult weekend but now, with him, that followed us, I’m sure we did a very good job.”
Campedelli gave M-Sport’s brand-new Ford Fiesta R5 challenger its ERC debut in Rome. Despite limited testing he was quickly into his stride and stormed up from ninth to third after tyre trouble on stage two.
That became second after a time penalty for Alexey Lukyanuk (Saintéloc Junior Team) demoted the reigning ERC champion down a place. And Lukyanuk would fall further back when Andrea Crugnola snatched the final podium spot after the ERC Junior graduate won 13 out of 16 stages.
Filip Mareš (ACCR Czech Rally Team) scored a crucial ERC1 Junior victory over Chris Ingram (Toksport WRT), the pair separated by 17.6s in fifth and sixth overall.
Ingram and Norbert Herczig (MOL Racing Team) spent most of leg two swapping positions in fifth and sixth, which became sixth and seventh when Crugnola went breezing past them on the morning loop.
Mārtiņš Sesks (LMT Autosporta Akadēmija) capped his second prize drive for winning last year’s ERC3 Junior crown with third in ERC1 Junior and eighth overall. Umberto Scandola (Hyundai Motorsport N) ran in the top five on Saturday but an end-of-day puncture cost him three minutes and sent him down to ninth as Vojtěch Štajf (ACCR Czech Rally Team) completed the top 10.
Early-season title pacesetter Łukasz Habaj (Sports Racing Technologies) crashed out on Saturday and only scored points for finishing fourth on leg two.
Nikolay Gryazin, on his first of two prize drives from promoter Eurosport Events for winning the ERC1 Junior crown in 2018, led after winning the first stage only to crash into retirement nearing the end of the very next run.
Dariusz Poloński won the Abarth Rally Cup and ERC2 with Ken Torn taking ERC3 and Pirelli-supported ERC3 Junior honours.
RALLY DI ROMA CAPITALE, 19-21 JULY 2019
TOP 10 POSITIONS (after 16 stages, 189.40 kilometres)
1 Giandomenico Basso (ITA)/Lorenzo Granai (ITA) ŠKODA Fabia R5 1h57m32.0s
2 Simone Campedelli (ITA)/Tania Canton (ITA) Ford Fiesta R5 +23.3s
3 Andrea Crugnola (ITA)/Pietro Ometto (ITA) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +1m00.3s
4 Alexey Lukyanuk (RUS)/Alexey Arnautov (RUS) Citroën C3 R5 +1m03.0s
5 Filip Mareš (CZE)/Jan Hloušek (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +1m26.0s
6 Chris Ingram (GBR)/Ross Whittock (GBR) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +1m43.5s
7 Norbert Herczig (HUN)/Ramón Ferencz (HUN) Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 +1m49.1s
8 Mārtiņš Sesks (LVA)/Uldis Briedis (LVA) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +3m14.5s
9 Umberto Scandola (ITA)/Guido D’Amore (ITA) Hyundai i20 R5 +4m42.4s
10 Vojtěch Štajf (CZE)/Veronika Havelková (CZE) Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 +7m03.1s
FIA ERC2: Dariusz Poloński (POL)/Łukasz Sitek (POL) Abarth 124 rally
FIA ERC3: Ken Torn (EST)/Kauri Pannas (EST) Ford Fiesta R2T
FIA ERC1 Junior: Filip Mareš (CZE)/Jan Hloušek (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia R5
FIA ERC3 Junior: Ken Torn (EST)/Kauri Pannas (EST) Ford Fiesta R2T
Abarth Rally Cup: Dariusz Poloński (POL)/Łukasz Sitek (POL) Abarth 124 rally
ERC Ladies’ Trophy: Emma Falcón (ESP) Citroën C3 R5