Mon 25 Jul 2022

Veni, vidi, vici: Winning co-driver Ascalone reacts to Rome success

Sometimes, the FIA European Rally Championship delivers a magical moment: the chance for rising stars to prove themselves to the world. Sunday at Rally di Roma Capitale was one of those moments.

Climbing onto the roof of their Škoda Fabia Rally2 after securing victory by 10.5sec on home soil, Damiano De Tommaso and Giorgia Ascalone couldn’t quite believe what they'd achieved. 

Both of them had won rallies before, of course. But this one - their first at international level - hit differently. It meant more. The champagne tasted sweeter. It was career-defining. And Ascalone played an integral role in that success. 

Co-driving is difficult at the best of times - let alone on the technical roads in central Italy, where there’s barely time to breathe before delivering the next pace note. 

Add in cockpit temperatures of over 50 degrees plus all the other duties assigned to the right-hand seat and, well, the pressure was well and truly on.

“It feels so unreal,” Ascalone told FIAERC.com. “Being a woman and being here in Rome - at the tenth anniversary of the event - it’s very special. This is only my second European championship rally ever so I am really quite lost for words.

"I couldn’t believe it when we crossed the finish line and I still can’t believe it even now. I think it’s going to take me a few days to realise what we went through this weekend. 

“This was a really hard rally. The temperatures were crazy, especially on the second loop of each day in the afternoon. At times, it felt like we had a hairdryer in the car with us! But we could not be more proud and we are on cloud nine.”

De Tommaso and Ascalone’s celebrations came at the expense of Andrea Crugnola, who held a slender lead before a throttle sensor issue slowed his Citroën C3 on Sunday morning. But Crugnola wasn’t the only driver there to win.

Simone Campedelli, Yoann Bonato, Giandomenico Basso and Efrén Llarena - partnered by 2021 co-drivers' champion Sara Fernández - were just a few of the talented names on the entry. And now there’s another new pairing with a blossoming reputation…

“I love Sara Fernández,” Ascalone laughed. “She has been a huge inspiration and I think I can safely say that we are friends now!

“We were quietly confident about our chances because last year we had some issues. But It was really quite hard on Saturday when we lost the lead, and we were not sure if we would be able to get it back.

“Looking at the entry list now, it is crazy. We have the best drivers in Italy and in Europe and that makes us even more proud because everybody here was very fast.”

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