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Thu 20 Jul 2023

Italian stars assemble to take on ERC aces in Rome

Two Italian rallying legends will take the fight to a host of star drivers from the FIA European Rally Championship on next week’s Rally di Roma Capitale (28 - 30 July).

Paolo Andreucci and Giandomenico Basso, who have 30 ERC wins between them, appear on the bulging entry list for Italy’s all-asphalt showpiece, which was unveiled during a media launch in Rome earlier today.

While double European champion Basso is one of 29 drivers competing in the headlining ERC1 category, Andreucci is preparing to bring his vast experience and pedigree to the ERC3 division in an MRF-equipped Renault Clio Rally3.

The 11-time Italian title winner will go up against ERC3 champion elect Jon Armstrong, who makes his Rally di Roma Capitale debut in a Ford Fiesta Rally3 run on Pirelli tyres.

Although Andreucci won’t be a contender for outright honours, his participation will be closely followed by his vast fanbase.

Meanwhile, Basso, who has won Rally di Roma Capitale three times, is third in the Italian championship, of which the Fiuggi-based event forms round five of the domestic season.

Current domestic points leader Andrea Crugnola, the defending Italian champion, is also in contention for ERC honours next week, as are Fabio Andolfi and Damiano De Tommaso, who is vying for back-to-back victories in Rome.

European points leader Hayden Paddon tops the 51-car ERC entry in a Pirelli-equipped Hyundai i20 N Rally2 run by top Italian outfit BRC Racing Team. He’s followed on the list by defending champion Efrén Llarena (Team MRF Tyres) and MRF Tyres Dealer Team driver Andrea Mabellini, the highest-seeded Italian.

Yoann Bonato, who won Rally Islas Canarias in a Citroën C3 Rally2 on Michelin tyres, is back on ERC duty, as are Miklós Csomós, Grzegorz Grzyb, Simone Tempestini, Albert von Thurn und Taxis and Simon Wagner.

Mārtiṇš Sesks will be aiming to add success on Tarmac to his brace of gravel-based ERC triumphs, while Alberto Battistolli, Simone Campedelli and former ERC regular Giacomo Scattolon will join, amongst others, Rachele Somaschini in flying the Italian flag on the event.

Trailer: Rally di Roma Capitale 2023

While Mathieu Franceschi, Mikko Heikkilä and Lauri Joona are Roma rookies, Filip Mareš has previous event knowledge to count on. Double European champion and two-time Rally di Roma Capitale winner Alexey Lukyanuk is also entered.

Ola Nore Jr fronts the 13-car FIA Junior ERC contingent ahead of Norbert Maior, Victor Hansen and local hero Roberto Daprà. Max McRae can count on Peugeot power for the first time as Mattia Zanin prepares to join Daprà in the ACI Team Italia attack. Nineteen-year-old Slovenian Mark Škulj is preparing to make his Junior ERC debut as Norman Kreuter and Bendegúz Hangodi will are among 20 drivers pushing for ERC4 points.