Andrea Torlasco just shy of a provisional points-scoring position
Like Sergio Vallejo before him on the recent Rally Principe de Asturias, Andrea Torlasco - the driver chosen to represent the BFGoodrich Drivers Team on this weekend's Rallye Sanremo- completed the first of the event's two legs in ninth position at the wheel of his Kronos -prepared Peugeot 207 S2000.
Twenty four-year old Andrea Torlasco is enjoying the experience of a lifetime on this weekend's legendary Rallye Sanremo at the wheel of the 2007 IRC-winning car prepared and run by the same outfit that took Sebastien Loeb to the 2006 world title, and equipped with BFGoodrich tyres!
Andrea, who was chosen from 133 applicants by a panel of journalists and representatives of the Italian motor sport governing body, BFGoodrich and Kronos Racing, generally competes at national level and has already notched up several top results at the wheel of his usual Renault Clio S1600.
This weekend's outing consequently marks a stark contrast for the Italian youngster. After a day (spoilt by rain) spent familiarising himself with the Peugeot 207 S2000 earlier in the week, Andrea lined up for the start of Italy's former WRC round alongside the IRC's elite seeded at No.30, just behind the three-time Sanremo winner and 1994 World Champion Didier Auriol. How could he not be impressed?
Andrea studiously followed the advice of his BFGoodrich technician regarding tyre management over the long loops and applied the advice to take his time to learn without making any mistakes to the letter. After posting the 19th best time on SS1, the Piedmont-based driver went on to claim the 16th fastest time on the next test, before coming 14th on SS3. He returned to Sanremo after the opening loop in 16th place overall, less than 10 seconds adrift of Didier Auriol!
After being deprived of the chance to contest Thursday evening's long night -time stage following the off of a competitor running ahead of him on the road, Andrea re-started this morning with the intention of continuing his apprenticeship in the Monte Ceppo region. He began the day by posting the 11th fastest time on SS5 and concluded Leg 1 with an extremely encouraging eighth best time on San Romolo, a mere 10 seconds off the pace of stage- winner Vouilloz.
The second leg of the 50th Rallye Sanremo on Saturday will take competitors twice over two more particularly selective tests, Colla d'Oggia and Passo di Teglia. Andrea's mission will be to move further up the leaderboard and finish in the points which, given his young age, his lack of experience at this level of competition and the quality of this weekend's entry, would be no mean performance!
Andrea Torlasco (9th, Peugeot/BFGoodrich): "I'm taking this weekend one step at a time. I really don't want to run before I can walk, or make any mistakes. The stages of this rally are very treacherous and quite a few drivers have already fallen by the wayside. Switching from a two-wheel drive S1600 to a four-wheel drive S2000 car is harder than I had imagined, too, especially on such a tough rally, with such long stages. For the moment, though, everything seems to be going well. I drove better this morning and I felt more comfortable with my car and tyres."