A top-ten finish for young Andrea Torlasco
Andrea Torlasco, 24, finished his maiden attempt at the Rallye Sanremo in a four-wheel drive car in ninth position. The young Italian learnt quickly with his Kronos-prepared, BFGoodrich- equipped Peugeot 207 S2000 and made visible progress over the weekend, culminating in a fourth fastest time on the final stage. All five ports of call of the 2008 BFGoodrich Drivers Team operation - which was organised by BFGoodrich with the support of Kronos Racing and the different national motor sport governing bodies involved - met with tremendous success, both on the stages and with rally fans.
There can't be many drivers who haven't dreamed of one day finishing inside the top-ten of a classic event like the Rallye Sanremo. For 24-year old Andrea Torlasco, whose has so far enjoyed a promising career at national level in his 'diminutive' Renault Clio, that very dream came true this weekend.
The Piedmont-based youngster was the fifth and final driver to be chosen to represent the BFGoodrich Drivers Team in 2008 after being selected from 133 applicants by the Italian media and representatives of the Italian motor sport federation, BFGoodrich and Kronos Racing to drive the BFGoodrich-equipped Peugeot 207 S2000 on the 50th Rallye Sanremo.
His pre-rally test drive was spoilt by rain, which means that he was only able to cover 30km in dry conditions - on the official shakedown - to familiarise himself with his new car before lining up for the start of the first stage, just behind the three-time Sanremo winner and 1994 World Champion Didier Auriol.
Totally unfazed, however, Andrea focused on the job in hand, in the knowledge that his mission was to take his time to find his marks and not make any mistakes. He ended Thursday evening's first three stages, run in twilight, in a highly encouraging 15th position overall, just seconds short of factory Abarth driver Anton Alèn and only ten seconds adrift of Auriol.
The following day saw him up his pace to produce a sequence of top-ten times on classic stages like Monte Ceppo and San Romolo. Following the decision of the stewards to hand out given times for the previous evening's interrupted SS4, the BFGoodrich Drivers Team Peugeot 207 S2000 ended Leg 1 in eighth position overall.
Although Andrea would dearly have liked to round off his weekend with a points-scoring finish, but he was finally dislodged from eighth spot by Finland's Anton Alèn, despite bagging a fifth- and a fourth-fastest time on the last day. That, however, didn't deter the spectators from cheering the BFGoodrich Drivers Team driver on all the way to the flag. Indeed, the event has enabled Andrea to take his career an important step forward, and BFGoodrich to have played a part in that.
In all five countries where the BFGoodrich Drivers Team programme has taken place (Portugal, Belgium, Czech Republic, Spain and Italy) it has met with resounding success.
Andrea Torlasco (9th, Peugeot/BFGoodrich):
"It's so infuriating to have missed out on eighth place by just 10 seconds! Even so, I think it's been a very positive weekend and I have learnt so much in so many domains, including driving a S2000 car, pacing myself and looking after my tyres over long stages-- It's all been terrific experience, and I would like to say a big thank you to BFGoodrich, Kronos and all those who contributed to giving me this opportunity."
Frederic Henry -Biabaud (BFGoodrich Competition Director):
"This weekend was the BFGoodrich Drivers Team operation's fifth and final port of call of 2008. This programme, which is unique in the world of rallying, has been an unmitigated success and we would like to thank all the motor sport governing bodies of the countries it has visited this year, as well as all the drivers who applied to take part. For the five rounds covered by the operation, we received a total of 300 applications and the national media of the events concerned chose the driver they believed was best qualified to represent their respective countries. In addition to the top results the BFGoodrich Drivers Team has achieved, which have ranged from fourth to ninth place, the programme has been a tremendous human adventure that has enabled five drivers to seize an opportunity at international level that they might possibly never have had otherwise. I would like to extend a heartfelt bravo to each and every one of them."
Marc Van Dalen (Team Manager, Kronos Racing):
"I would like to congratulate Andrea. To finish inside the top-ten on the Rallye Sanremo at first attempt at the age of just 24, and after just 30km of experience in his car in dry conditions during the shakedown is an outstanding performance. The Italian media made an excellent choice. Andrea didn't make a single mistake and it didn't take him long to grasp how to make the most of his BFGoodrich tyres. He also improved throughout the weekend. This result is eloquent of the success the BFGoodrich Drivers Team operation has enjoyed this year with five very quick and reliable drivers."
Jacques Morelli (IRC Programme Manager, BFGoodrich):
"We are very pleased with Andrea's performance this weekend. Everything was new for him: driving a four-wheel drive car, long stages and such experienced opposition. He took his time, however, and progressed as the weekend went on before posting a fifth- and a fourth-fastest time on the final day. If only in sporting terms, the 2008 BFGoodrich Drivers Team programme has been very positive. Andrea was ninth this weekend and, before him, Pavel Valousek finished fourth, Patrick Snijers finished fifth, Sergio Vallejo came seventh and Miguel Campos was eighth before being eliminated by a mechanical problem on the final road section in Portugal. We received hundreds of applications and the BFGoodrich Drivers Team Peugeot 207 S2000 met with tremendous success on the stages everywhere it went."