Thu 09 Nov 2023

Z is for Zanini or Zasada in latest ERC Greatest Driver head-to-head

The third day of voting to establish the ERC Greatest Driver is a head-to-head contest between two legends with a penchant for testing themselves to the limit in different machinery.

Antonio Zanini, one of only two Spaniards to win the FIA European Rally Championship, is going up against Sobiesław Zasada in the latest fan vote. While Zanini was a sole ERC title winner in 1980, Zasada was a triple champion, one of only three drivers in European championship history to enjoy such success. But both were versatile and quick to adapt to different cars.  

For his title-winning season in 1980, Zanini rallied everything from a Porsche 911 SC to a Ford Escort RS 1800 and even a Subaru 1600 GFT. Zasada, meanwhile, switched between Rover, Steyr-Puch and Mini power for his high-speed accomplishments in 1966. He then used Porsches and BMWs to become European champion in 1967 and 1971 respectively.  

As part of the ERC’s 70th anniversary celebrations, has taken a data-based approach to pick out 12 drivers who have won the coveted European title at least two times. Four wildcards, based on their impact during a certain ERC era, have also been selected.  

Employing bracketology, the vote between Zanini and Zasada opens at 11:00 CET today (Thursday) and closes 24 hours later. It follows on from Wednesday’s second head-to-head battle between Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Jan Kopecký, which Kajetanowicz won having received 68 per cent of the vote. The ERC Greatest Driver, according to your votes, will be revealed on 1 December.

Multitasker Zanini plays the waiting game to win big

Starting out in motocross before turning rally co-driver, Antonio Zanini (above) would let his driving do the talking when he won the 1980 ERC title after finishing runner-up in 1979. An eight-time Spanish champion, Zanini was a Rallye Monte-Carlo podium finisher in 1977. He’s also worked in team co-ordination, driver coaching, including guiding several young talents from his homeland, and even drove a truck on the Dakar Rally.   

ERC’s first triple champion Zasada demonstrated great versatility  So significant was Sobiesław Zasada’s capture of his second ERC title in 1967 – one year after his first – that it earned him the Polish Sports Personality of the Year prize that year. Motorcycle competition actually provided his first motorsport fix until he took up four-wheel competition in 1951, initially as a circuit racer. Zasada (below), whose third ERC crown came in 1971, would go on to develop his vastly successful Zasada Group business empire, which has interests in property, manufacturing and motoring, amongst others. In 2021, Zasada became the oldest driver to contest a round of the WRC when he entered Safari Rally Kenya aged 91.

Tomorrow’s ERC Greatest Driver head-to-head: Bernard Darniche versus Patrick Snijers

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM