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Italian champion Paulo Andreucci won the Sanremo Rally for a fifth time, third time running, having led the two day event nearly all the way.  

Hayden Paddon on his way to second place in Sanremo.An impressive second place was taken by Hyundai WRC driver Hayden Paddon after scoring fastest time on the 33km night stage in a NG i20 R5.  This was Paddon’s first rally with his future WRC co-driver Sebastian Marshall.   

Andreucci’s Peugeot’s only threat came from the Skoda of Umberto Scandola, but he dropped back with a puncture.  Punctures also thwarted the efforts of Kalle Rovanpera, who had climbed up to seventh overall.   

Korean driver Chewon Lim rose up to ninth place before damaging his car when he hit a wall, eventually retiring with an electrical problem.

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Under-age rally driver, 16-year old Kalle Rovanpera, explained at Sanremo why it was awkward for him not being allowed to drive on open public roads, only on the stages during the actual rally.  

He uses a recce car with right hand drive.  Father Harri drives the car, Kalle sits in the passenger seat in order to have a right vision of the stages, co-driver Risto Pietelainen writes the notes in the back.   

“The most difficult part is not that I must always change seats for liaison sections, but I do not have the chance myself to heat up the tyres before the stages.”   

When it was announced that rain was forecast, Kalle said: “I have never driven in the rain …!”

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Homologation has been approved for the official Fiesta R5 Evo with new cylinder head and exhaust manifold, but parts will not be available until Rally Portugal.

Meanwhile, five so-called Fiesta RS Evos, featuring uprated parts from earlier development work. were entered on the FIA’s Codasur Trans Itapua Rally, but should they have been called “Evo”?  Tricky one.

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Why did the Tour de Corse have to move from autumn to spring?   FIA Rally Director Jarmo Mahonen explained: ”It  provides a much better balance to the calendar.  Having seven consecutive snow and gravel events puts too much emphasis on loose surface competition in the first half of the season.”

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South American champion drivers, Paraguayan Gustavo Saba and Argentine Marcos Ligato, have teamed up together, driving in Saba’s Skoda team on the Codasur Trans Itapua Rally.   

Tango Chevrolet team chief Ligato had planned to drive one of Saba’s Skodas in last year’s Codasur Erechim Rally in Brazil, but was stranded before the event by bad weather in his home city of Cordoba.
 
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Although the Lotos team entered the double and reigning ERC champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz for the opening 2017 round (Azores), the team was only able to announce a season-long continuation of Lotos’ association with the Polish driver just before the start of the event.
 
- Martin Holmes

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