"La Saxo vince ancora!" Victory again for the Saxo! Success on the Sanremo Rally this afternoon for CitroÃ«n's Andrea Dallavilla and Giovanni Bernacchini has given the Saxo its ninth win from the eleven rounds organised within the ...
"La Saxo vince ancora!"
Victory again for the Saxo! Success on the Sanremo Rally this afternoon for Citroën's Andrea Dallavilla and Giovanni Bernacchini has given the Saxo its ninth win from the eleven rounds organised within the framework of the FIA Junior Championship, known in its inaugural season last year as the 'Super 1600' championship. This record is an eloquent pointer to the French car's high level of performance and reliability.
Despite starting as favourite, Andrea Dallavilla, winner of the Italian round and runner-up in the 2001 series, found himself with a major fight on his hands. Throughout the weekend, the Brescia-based driver was locked in a furious scrap with the Fiat Puntos of Giandomenico Basso and Nicola Caldani and the three cars spent much of the event grouped within around ten seconds of each other. Andrea spent the early part of the rally fine-tuning the set-up of his car, leaving Caldani to momentarily set the pace. But once his Saxo had been set-up to his liking, the Vieffe Corse driver took control before magnificently shrugging off the repeated pressure from his chasers to hold on to a 9.6 seconds lead at the flag.
Two non-Italians also figured amongst the frontrunners, namely François Duval and Catalonia's Dani Solà. While the Belgian's attack proved all too brief, the rising Spanish star impressed observers by posting five fastest times, including best time in the very long 'Colle Langan' stage (42 km), to snatch 3rd place from Caldani in the final test. And had it not been for two tyre choice errors that cost him around twenty seconds, there is every reason to believe he could have been in the thick of the fight for outright victory.
Jussi Välimäki and Janne Tuohino enjoyed a consistent, trouble-free run, despite running on asphalt, an unfamiliar surface to them. They felt increasingly comfortable on the Sanremo stages but now look forward to fighting for victory in Great Britain, just as they did the last time the series ran on gravel, in Greece. Finally, Citroen's fifth man Mirco Baldacci underlined the reliability of the French car by ensuring that all five Saxos that started the event successfully reached the finish. The San Marin-based driver had been hoping for a better result on what must be considered his home event but he was delayed by a wishbone-mounting problem.
Third place for Dani Solà has allowed Andrea Dallavilla to squeeze past in the provisional championship standings. The two Citroën drivers have now pulled well clear of their rivals, however, and the final shoot-out for the title in the Welsh forests next November will be between these two. All of which points to a second consecutive crown for the Saxo!