BF Goodrich dominates Sanremo Rally
- 2nd October 2007, 11:19am
BFGoodrich runners monopolised the podium of the legendary Sanremo Rally, the seventh round of the 2007 Intercontinental Rally Challenge, thanks to Luca Rossetti (Peugeot 207 S2000) who took the laurels ahead of Giandomenico Basso (Abarth Grande Punto) and Nicolas Vouilloz (Peugeot 207 S2000).
The Frenchman, Rossetti, put in a superb run to finish equal second in the Drivers points table, seven points behind his team-mate Enrique Garcia Ojeda. BFGoodrich is now also certain of claiming the Italian title: thanks to the victory of Rossetti and the second place of Basso this weekend, the American tyre brand cannot be beaten with two rounds remaining.
Before the IRC came into town, records showed that there had only been five days of rain in this part of the Ligurian coast since last January. But the sixth day of wet weather came on the Thursday to mark the first day of action of the 2007 Sanremo Rally! Competitors set out from the service park in pouring rain for an initial loop of three stages in the Monte Bignone region, classic hunting ground over the years for the former WRC fixture. However, while SS1 and SS3 were both extremely wet, the second stage - from Apricale to Baiardo - was curiously relatively dry.
The opening loop produced an all-Italian provisional top-five, with Paolo Andreucci (Mitsubishi) finishing 2.2s clear of Ypres winner Luca Rossetti (Peugeot/BFGoodrich) and 20.9s ahead of Basso. Gilles Panizzi (6th), Nicolas Vouilloz (10th) and the IRC leader Enrique Garcia Ojeda (13th).
The awesome 44km test kicked off at 10.57pm and was consequently run in darkness. Its asphalt surface had been dried by the wind and BFGoodrich runners all chose soft compound A01 tyre. As expected, the challenging stage had a radical effect on the provisional podium as Luca Rossetti moved into top spot ahead of Basso and Andreucci, while Nicolas Vouilloz (Peugeot/BFGoodrich) gained no fewer than five places.
The second leg took crews to the Monte Ceppo region for a loop of two stages (27km and 26km) to be covered twice. Sunshine had returned to the Riviera and tyre choices were consequently much more straightforward, with everybody opting this time for dry weather rubber, although the question of durability still caused some head scratching in the service park. Indeed, the combination of fast, flowing corners, twisty, narrow descents and frequent portions of abrasive asphalt promised to be a tough test of the tyres’ ability to resist wear.
Paolo Andreucci (5th) hit trouble and was passed by Nicolas Vouilloz, Umberto Scandola and Gilles Panizzi who had been fourth until taking a 50-second penalty following mechanical problems.
After his success in Ypres last June, Peugeot Italy’s Luca Rossetti went on to pocket his second win of this year's Intercontinental Rally Challenge which is turning into something of a thriller since Andrea Navarra and Nicolas Vouilloz are now equal second, just seven points behind current leader Enrique Garcia Ojeda.
Meanwhile, in the Manufacturers' standings, Peugeot enjoys a cushion of 17 points over Abarth. The penultimate round of the season takes contestants to Switzerland at the end of October.
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