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The inaugural edition of the International Rally Challenge came to an exciting finish in Italy last weekend, when Paolo Andreucci won the Rallye Sanremo, the fourth and final round of the SRW Events-promoted series, in a Fiat Grande Punto S2000, while his team-mate Giandomenico Basso was confirmed as the first IRC Champion.

Co-driven by Anna Andreussi, Paolo claimed victory on a wet weather shortened Rallye Sanremo. After 20 hours of torrential rain in northern Italy, and the forecast of 32mm of more rain to come, the Sanremo Automobile Club cancelled all of Leg 1’s four night stages for safety reasons. Originally scheduled to start on the evening of Thursday 14th September, the 48th running of the event turned into a slippery high-speed sprint, held over Leg 2’s six stages on Saturday 16th September.

Andreucci set the fastest time on three out of the six stages to win, Andrea Aghini/Dario D'Esposito won two stages to finish 2nd in their Subaru Impreza, while Renato Travaglia/Lorenzo Granai finished 3rd in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. Travaglia’s 3rd place is provisional, subject to a suspended one minute time penalty which is under appeal.

Andrea Navarra/Guido D'Amore were the other stage winners, setting the fastest time on the final stage in their Fiat Punto S2000.

Rallye Sanremo winner Paolo Andreucci said: “It was an intense sprint race, in very difficult conditions. Hats off to the organisers for having pulled it off! On the first loop of stages the roads were very slippery, and especially on the third stage there was a lot of water on the road. I thought that the conditions would get better though and for the second loop I used harder tyres, which turned out to be the right choice.”

IRC Champion Giandomenico Basso said: “I would have liked to have been driving on this Sanremo Rally, but it was not in my programme. I was also quite happy to see my team-mate Paolo Andreucci win, thanks also to a fantastic tyre choice, so really I have little to complain about.”

2006 Rallye Sanremo results – top 10
1. Paolo Andreucci/Anna Andreussi (Fiat Punto S2000)… 1:12.55.0
2. Andrea Aghini/Dario D'Esposito (Subaru Impreza)... + 14.2
3. Renato Travaglia/Lorenzo Granai (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX)…+ 25.3
4. Piero Longhi/Maurizio Imerito (Subaru Impreza)...+ 37.1
5. Simon Jean-Joseph/Jack Boyere (Renault Clio S1600)…+ 1.02.6
6. Andrea Navarra/Guido D'Amore (Fiat Punto S2000)…+ 1.04.9
7. Denis Colombini/Flavio Gugielmini (Subaru Impreza)...+1.42.1s
8. Luca Rossetti/Matteo Chiarcossi (Peugeot 206 Super 1600)…+1.53.3s
9. Fabrizio Ratiglia/Cristiana Biondi (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX)…+1.59.6s
10. Davide Medici/Monica Cicognini (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX)…+28.2s

2006 IRC – Final Drivers’ standings after Round 4 of 4 (Rallye Sanremo)
1. Giandomenico BASSO (I)…20pts
2. Alister McRAE (GBR)...10pts
= Paolo ANDREUCCI (I)...10pts
4. Enzo KUUN (RSA)...8pts
= Kris PRINCEN (B)...8pts
= Armindo ARAÚJO (P)…8pts
= Andrea AGHINI (I)...8pts
= Simon JEAN-JOSEPH (F)…8pts
9. Renato TRAVAGLIA (I)...7pts
10. Etienne LOURENS (RSA)…6pts
= Larry COLS (B)…6pts
= Fernando Peres (P)...6pts

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