First win of the season for Basso-Granai in the CIAR Sparco, they are ruling again at Sanremo

In an exclusive competition marked by many retirements, the driver from Treviso, piloting a Skoda Fabia RS, secured his fourth career victory on the legendary asphalt after a dominant race. Avbelj-Andrejka in their Skoda are the Italian Promotion Champions, making their debut in the national competition. Zanin-Moriconi celebrated their first victory in the CIAR Junior. Giordano-Siragusa once again claimed the Italian R1 Championship and the Suzuki Rally Cup. F. Andolfi-Savoia emerged as winners in the GR Yaris Rally Cup.


Sanremo (IM), Saturday, September 30th, 2023 – Years go by, protagonists change, the context, and the eras, but the 70th Rallye Sanremo remains a timeless race. The 70th edition organized by the Automobile Club Ponente Ligure confirmed the prestige and allure of a rally with a unique character, making the seventh and penultimate round of the Sparco Italian Rally Championship thrilling. The final outing on asphalt for the top Italian series, awaiting the grand finale in Monza scheduled for December, provided excitement over 13 special stages covering 102 timed kilometres. Returning to Corso Imperatrice, in the shadow of the Sanremo Casino, to celebrate victory were Giandomenico Basso and Lorenzo Granai in their Skoda Fabia RS, marking their first win of the season. The duo, driving the Czech car prepared by Delta Rally and equipped with Pirelli tires, dominated the competition, as evidenced by their 8 stage wins. Basso returned to the top of Sanremo 11 years after his last win, claiming his fourth victory in the event that wrote pages of history in Italian rally during the golden years of the World Rally Championship. The Treviso driver built a significant advantage, particularly with a triple victory on the "Langan", the most challenging special stage that eliminated several expected contenders. The crucial moment of the rally came during the second pass of this stage when Fabio Andolfi from Savona, partnered with Nicolò Gonella in another Skoda, winners of the initial Power Stage on Friday and Basso-Granai's main rivals for the championship, made contact and were forced to retire due to a broken suspension arm. This turn of events handed the race lead to Basso, who extended his advantage over his pursuers during the middle part of the rally and managed it in the final lap.

Also celebrating on the final podium of the Rallye Sanremo were Bostjan Avbelj and Damijan Andrejka, who won the race and the Italian Rally Promotion Championship, which concluded on the Riviera di Ponente with the highest coefficient. The two Slovenians in the Skoda prepared by MS Munaretto couldn't have imagined a better conclusion to their debut season in the Italian championship, demonstrating their abilities in each of the rounds they contested. This time, the driver from Ljubljana approached the race with a lot of consistency, increasing his pace as the stages progressed, and seizing the opportunity when he saw Luca Bottarelli, partnered with Marco Pollicino in a Skoda, withdraw from the competition after a collision on SS2 Langan. In the third round of stages, Avbelj took satisfaction in winning the final three specials of the rally, bringing him to within 57.3 seconds of Basso and earning him his third season victory in Promotion, the second overall podium, but most importantly, his first Italian title.

It will be an unforgettable Sanremo for Nicola Sartor as well, who, along with Lorenzo Mattucci, achieved his first Italian podium in his career at his debut on the legendary roads. This result was hardly predictable even for the driver from Feltrino, who made his first appearance as an outsider in the context of the Italian Championship and was ready when several of the more favoured drivers retired due to a series of unfavourable incidents. The duel for the third position was with another outsider in the Italian championship, Sandro Sottile, a local driver navigated by Marco Nari in another Skoda. The head-to-head lasted until the final lap, then Sartor's move sent the attack back, finishing 22 seconds behind at the finish. Among the noteworthy retirements, after Bottarelli and Andolfi, there was also the withdrawal of Andrea Nucita from Messina, partnered with Rudy Pollet, who never found their rhythm with their Hyundai i20 Rally2 and then suffered a puncture in the hot phase of the race. There was also the stop of Andrea Carella from Piacenza, accompanied by Enrico Bracchi in a Skoda, due to a collision on SS4 "Bignone". Sanremo stood out as one of the most demanding events in the championship, with a total of 21 retirements, second only to the Rally San Marino, which concluded with one more retirement, emphasizing the difficulty and challenges presented by the Ligurian asphalt.


Ivan Ferrarotti with Massimo Bizzocchi closed in fifth place in another Skoda. The driver from Reggio Emilia could have aimed for the Promotion title, but despite the difficulties encountered during the race, following Bottarelli's retirement, he chose to manage the final stages and secure second place in the race, which also granted him the second position overall in the CIRP. Behind him, the German Alberto Von Thurn Und Taxis with Jara Hain had fun and provided entertainment, often seen on Italian roads with his Skoda. He immediately appreciated the extraordinary roads and context of Sanremo, ultimately achieving his best result on Italian soil. Seventh place overall earned Antonio Rusce and Martina Musiari a podium finish in the CIR Promotion, as they remained in control with their Skoda, ultimately winning the battle against Liberato Sulpizio from Frosinone, partnered with Alessio Angeli in a Hyundai i20, who finished eighth, just 10 seconds behind. They were followed by the Skoda of "Pedro" and Stefano Tiraboschi.

Completing the top ten positions was Fabrizio Andolfi with Stefano Savoia, the winners of the round valid for the GR Yaris Rally Cup. The victory came late for the driver from Savona, brother of Fabio, who competed in the Absolute category and was largely influenced by the misfortune that befell Thomas Paperini and Simone Fruini, the absolute stars of the Toyota trophy but slowed down by a mechanical problem on SS11 "Semoigo", which forced them to retire after completing the special stage. Simone Di Giovanni from Rome took advantage of the situation, and together with Andrea Colapietro, settled for second place, catapulting him to the top of the overall standings for the GR Yaris Rally Cup. Third in the Japanese trophy was the Sicilian duo of Salvatore Lo Cascio and Gianfrancesco Rappa.


The Rallye Sanremo for the Italian Rally Junior was a closely fought competition, offering Marco Zanin and Massimo Moriconi their first Italian victory. The driver from Treviso staged an incredible comeback in his first year with ACI Team Italia, erasing a series of misfortunes and unfavourable incidents experienced in the first part of the season with a clean slate that propels him into the title race. The youth series will have its final round on the gravel of Monza, with a 1.5 coefficient, alongside the major championship. In the meantime, Zanin enjoyed his first place on the Sanremo podium, thanks to a comeback built in the middle of the rally, completed in the final stage with his only personal scratch, the decisive one on SS13 "Coldirodi", which allowed him to secure the final lead over Igor Iani and Manuel Fenoli. Luck did not favour the driver from Ossola this time either, as he led for much of the race among the Renault Clio Rally5 cars, all prepared by Motorsport Italia and equipped with Pirelli tires. Iani presented himself at the final start with a 3.3-second lead over Doretto-Budoia and a 5.1-second advantage over Zanin-Moriconi. However, the driver from Conegliano made a strong push in the last round, gaining 7.5 seconds on Iani and 8.5 seconds on Doretto to secure the victory. Completing the podium was Matteo Doretto from Pordenone, navigated by Andrea Budoia, who led the group in the second lap. Other Junior drivers slowed down at various points due to small mistakes, like Geronimo and Francesca Nerobutto, who finished fourth despite rear-end contact in the early part of the rally. It weighed heavily on the race for the leaders of the Italian championship, Davide Pesavento and Marco Frigo, the uncertainty before entering SS4, when the drivers from Vicenza arrived at the time control early with a one-minute penalty that prevented them from achieving more than fifth place. A collision compromised the chances of success for Francesco Dei Ceci, assisted by Nicolò Lazzarini, who collided with the rear and damaged the axle of his Renault during SS6, on the second pass of the Langan stage. However, the 18-year-old driver from Caserta had started better than anyone with a victory in the Power Stage, his first of the season, but he had to settle for sixth place. Another milestone reached by debutant Niko La Notte, who partnered with Brazilian Gabriel Morales. After the first special stage, Riccardo Pederzani from Varese retired with Edoardo Brovelli, while Sicilian drivers Salvatore Scannella and Francesco Galipò began the race well, moving into second place, but they went off the road towards the end of the first Saturday lap on the "Coldirodi”.

Matteo Giordano and Manuela Siragusa could not have dreamed of a better outcome at the Rallye Sanremo, which also served as the sixth round of the Suzuki Rally Cup. In a single stroke, they secured victory in the trophy and the title in the Italian R1 Championship, repeating their successes from the previous season. The driver from Cuneo once again dominated the scene among the Japanese cars, but towards the end, a mistake nearly wiped out the year's efforts. While he had a significant lead, it wasn't enough to manage the lead in complete solitude. Roberto Pellè and Luca Franceschini were ready to seize any opportunity, and with a final push, they came close to snatching victory from Giordano. At the finish line near the Casino, the driver from Trentino was only 2.7 seconds behind. This sixth round of the single-make championship promoted by Suzuki Italia was undoubtedly the most uncertain of the season, with the young talent Alessandro Forneris, paired with Luigi Cavagnetto, securing third place, just 3.7 seconds behind the runner-up. The final event in Monza, with a higher coefficient on mixed terrain (dirt and asphalt), will be crucial in determining the under-25 standings and the podium for the Suzuki Rally Cup.


CIAR SPARCO CLASSIFICATION: 1. Crugnola 159pt*; 2. Basso 84pt; 3. Andolfi 64; 4. Avbelj 58pt; 5. De Tommaso 42pt; 6. Ferrarotti 38pt; 7. Bottarelli 37;

CIR PROMOTION CLASSIFICATION: 1. Avbelj 112pt*; 2. Ferrarotti 100pt; 3. Bottarelli 88pt;

CIAR 2WD CLASSIFICATION: 1. Pisani 97pt*; 2. Farina 71pt; 3. Cambiaghi 63,5pt; 4. Di Pietro 42pt; 5. Cardi 38,5pt; 6. Lucchesi 33pt;

CIAR JUNIOR CLASSIFICATION: 1. Pesavento 85pt; 2. Iani 70pt; 3. Pederzani 58pt; 4. Dei Ceci 55pt; 5. Doretto 46pt;

*already crowned Italian Champion


SPARCO ITALIAN RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2023: March 10 -11 | Rally Il Ciocco e Valle del Serchio; April 14 -15 | #RA Rally Regione Piemonte; May 5-6 | Targa Florio Rally (coeff. 1,5); June 16-17 | San Marino Rally (coeff. 1,5); July 28-30 | Rally di Roma Capitale (coeff. 1,5); September 8-9 | Rally 1000 Miglia; September 29-30 | Rallye Sanremo; December 1-3 | Rally di Monza (coeff. 1,5)


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