Ultimate sacrifice: Melegari gesture gives former ERC champion Basso Rally di Roma Capitale chance
Zelindo Melegari has made the ultimate sacrifice by pulling his entry for Rally di Roma Capitale so former ERC champion and fellow Italian Giandomenico Basso can contest his country’s round of the FIA European Rally Championship from 20-22 July.
Basso, European champion in 2006 and 2009, is part of Melegari’s Movisport driver management company but did not have the necessary funds to contest the all-asphalt ERC qualifier, which also counts for Italian championship points.
However, Melegari’s decision to cancel his own plans to tackle the event in the ERC2 category means Basso, who is also a double Italian champion, is now set to compete in a Team Metior-run ŠKODA Fabia R5 with new co-driver Moira Lucca from Switzerland.
“It was a difficult decision not to participate in my home round of the ERC after contesting the first four events of the season,” said Melegari, ERC2 runner-up in 2017. “I’m also really sad but due to the need to put the interests of Movisport first, I needed to step aside for this event to give Giandomenico the best possible chance to not only take part on the rally but to win it as well. It’s a good decision for Movisport and a good decision for Giandomenico and I would like to thank Team Metior and Moira Lucca for their support. I’m really happy that a previous European champion is back in the ERC battlefield.”
Basso has a strong record on Rally di Roma Capitale, finishing second in 2015 and third the following year. He said: “I am very grateful to Zelindo and all at Movisport, Team Metior and my new co-driver Moira for giving me this opportunity. As a former European champion I am really happy to be competing in the ERC again on what is a very prestigious and challenging rally. I know the competition will be strong but hopefully my experience and determination to succeed will give a good chance to fight for the victory.”
Meanwhile, Melegari has revealed his intention to return to ERC2 action later this season with two outings planned before the end of the 2018 campaign.
Rally di Roma Capitale forms round five of the 2018 ERC season and begins with a spectacular start followed by a driving tour of the city’s famous landmarks and a superspecial stage in the EUR district. In total the event features 15 all-asphalt stages over a competitive distance of 205.97 kilometres and closes with a seaside superspecial in Ostia to the west of central Rome on the evening of Sunday 22 July.