Giandomenico Basso and Mitia Dotta winnen ERC
Giandomenico Basso en Mitia Dotta hebben afgeloepn nacht het Europese Rally kampioenschap gewonnen in de vijftigste Rallye International du Valais. De strijd werd niet gewonnen door als eersten over de finish van de etappes te komen, maar door het constante rijden, wat uiteindelijk genoeg punten opleverde om het de titel binnen te halen. De rally ging afgelopen donderdag van start en eindigt vandaag, zaterdag 31-10-2009. Het is de tweede ERC titel voor Basso, die het kampioenschap eerder in 2006 won. De laatste keer dat een Italiaanse atuo deze rally won, was in 1992 met Philippe Roux aan het stuur van een Lancia Delta HF Integrale:
Abarth’s Giandomenico Basso and Mitia Dotta have won the 2009 European Rally Championship (ERC) on this weekend’s 50th Rallye International du Valais, the second ERC title for the pair at the wheel of the Grande Punto Abarth S2000 and the twentieth such triumph for the Fiat Group since 1969. With additional points awarded to the top three ERC-registered runners at the end of each leg of an event, as of the conclusion of the second leg in Switzerland last night Basso was sitting on 109 points, compared to his only remaining rival Michal Solowow's 93 points, with a maximum of 13 points being still left to collect today.
With Basso slotting in selected ERC appearances early in the season with the Spanish D'Ambra team, plus the overlap with events that also counted towards the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) which Basso was contesting with the factory team, the Italian always kept pace in the rankings with the two key challengers for this year's title who have been totally focused on the series, Solowow and Corrado Fontana, both at the wheel of Peugeot 207 S2000s this year. Without a drop score rule in the ERC this year, the events Basso has missed had the potential to prove costly – but thanks to a string of maximum-score performances, the Italian kept in the chase, and after Abarth's IRC hopes were extinguished, he switched focus to concentrate on wrapping up this title, coming into this final event with scores on the ELPA Rally and Rally D’Antibes which gave him a 14-point lead, with a maximum of 19 points on offer.
This year’s 50th Rallye International du Valais is divided into three days, with 18 special stages covering just over 275 km. The rally has a reputation of being tough on drivers and machines, with the elevation of the stages being between 400 and 1800 metres above sea level.
The rally started on Thursday with a short leg of three stages, Basso posting the fastest time on SS1 to take a 2.9-second lead over the Peugeot 207 S2000 of local driver Grégoire Hotz. SS2 saw Hotz chip 2.3 seconds out of Basso as these two set the pace at the front of the rally, while into third place came another Swiss star and an eight-time winner of the Rallye International du Valais, Olivier Burri, at the wheel of his D’Ambra Abarth Grande Punto. With Basso focused on collecting points and Holz no threat to his title bid, he let the Swiss take another 4.1 seconds off him on SS3, the Peugeot pilot ending the first day with a 3.1-second lead. Burri made it two Abarths in the top 3, 23.3 seconds off the lead. For Basso it was a maximum three points, as his only challenger Solowow was back in ninth place, 42.2 seconds off the lead, and the Italian would only need to finish in front of the Pole on Saturday to wrap up the title.
While Basso and Burri held second and third positions overnight, the other two Abarth Grande Puntos in private hands fared less well, Luyet Laurent going out with clutch problems on SS2 while Josias Rywalski, contesting his second-ever rally and his first in a Scorpion S2000 car, failed to cover himself with glory, causing the Renault Clio of Kris Princen running behind him to crash during an attempt to pass on SS2, and himself retiring at the end of the stage with mechanical problems. Mechanical maladies also struck down Sébastien and Cynthia Schmid in a Fiat Punto HGT on SS1, while the two Fiat Punto JTD runners, including 2008 IRC 2WD Cup Champion Marcoi Cavigioli, were still running further down the order. Day two saw Hotz and Basso first and second fastest over all the leg’s seven stages, the gap easing to 54.1 seconds as Basso cruised to his second ERC crown (his first came in 2006 at the wheel of the Grande Punto S2000, then known as the Fiat Grande Punto Rally). Solowow had climbed sharply up the leaderboard on day two to third place but at the end of the final stage of the leg, SS10, he was more than two minutes behind the Abarth pilot and the title was secure. The Scorpion podium challenge was slimmed down to just Basso on the first stage of the day (SS4), as Burri crashed out, while Cavigioli (Fiat Punto JTD) retired before he reached the start of the same stage. Laurent restarted the second day in his Abarth Grande Punto S2000 under the 'Superally' rule, as did the Fiat Punto HGT of Schmid, but the former again went out with mechanical problems on SS9; the HGT driver made it through to complete the second leg. Apart from Basso, the sole surviving Italian car on the official leaderboard is the Fiat Punto JTD of Xavier Craviolini, in 36th place overall.
With the European title in the bag, Basso is now free to charge through today's final leg – comprising eight stages and just over 115 competitive kilometres, the second-longest of the rally – and try to make up the 54.1 second gap to Holz. Last year, when the Rallye International du Valais also counted towards the IRC, he finished fifth overall, the best-placed Abarth runner as Peugeot locked out the top four positions. The last Italian car to claim a win on this event was the legendary Lancia Delta HF Integrale, in the hands of Philippe Roux, back in 1992.
Nieuws, uitslagen e.d. m.b.t. rally's.
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