Luca Rossetti winnaar 46e Rallye Antibes Côte d'Azur
Luca Rossetti won afgelopen weekend de 46e Rallye Antibes Côte d'Azur, maar miste door transmissieproblemen (iets wat hem altijd schijnt te overkomen) net die paar punten (vier) om het Europees Rally Kampioenschap (ERC) te winnen. Om de titel te prolongeren, moest hij in ieder geval de eerste dag een goed resultaat behalen, wat hem ook lukte. Hij won vier van de zes proeven, waardoor hij nu 253 punten heeft, tegenover 223 punten voor z'n rivaal Luca Betti. Over twee weken krijgt hij de kans om de titel te winnen, tijdens de Rallye International du Valais. Ook in de Antibes Rally, was Giovanni Vergnano in de Abarth 500 R3T, rijdend voor de 2 wielaangedreven klasse. Hij wist 2e algemeen te worden, achter Rok Turk in de Peugeot 307 R3T met 4:12 en 17e in het totaalklassement:
Luca Rossetti is just four points away from clinching a fourth FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) title for the Abarth Grande Punto S2000, after racing to victory on the 46th Rallye Antibes Côte d'Azur at the weekend. It means the Italian driver will go into the final ERC round, the Rallye International du Valais, in two weeks time with 253 points compared to the 223 points of his sole remaining rival, Luca Betti, and needing just a solid placing on the first day to successfully defend the title. “I am very happy to have won the rally, it is my first victory here,” said Rossetti. “I am a little bit disappointed as I am missing two points in order to [gain the title]. It has been a very difficult rally with a lot of mechanical problems. But it is nice to have won this prestigious rally.”
Although Rossetti was never troubled as he headed to victory on the 46th Rallye Antibes Côte d'Azur at the weekend, he dropped vital points on the final day, as transmission problems reared their head just as the title was within reach. That stumble allowed Betti to steal the highest score for the day, and with it two extra points keep his title hopes alive. It means that Rossetti has to wait until Valais to secure the title, but the Abarth star can’t afford any mistakes or mechanical problems on this final event with Betti still retaining a mathematical chance – and enjoying Peugeot factory support for the last two rounds, ensuring him the equipment to get the job done if his countryman slips up. After yet another ERC season spent scratching from round-to-round for a budget, and once more behind the wheel of the ageing and underdeveloped Grande Punto S2000 which is no longer a match for its Super 2000 peers, the Italian has ground out one impressive result after another to stand on the brink of his third European crown in just four years – his first coming in 2008 came at the wheel of a Peugeot 207 S2000, and his second last year in the Grande Punto S2000. With the factory-supported Abarth challenge utterly outclassed in this year’s Italian Rally Championship by former Fiat factory driver Paolo Andreucci (who lifted the crown after winning every round up to an uncatchable score), the 2011 European title is likely to be the final honour for the successful Scorpion Super 2000 machine.
The Rallye Antibes Côte d’Azur uses many of the famous roads of the Rallye Monte Carlo and Rossetti was untroubled at the top of the classification as he powered the privately-entered Grande Punto into an early lead – one he would not relinquish until the finish, despite Betti’s best efforts. Rossetti took two fastest times out of the two stages that made up Leg 1, to take a 46.2 second lead into Leg 2. “This was a difficult first stage as I had never driven through it,” said Rossetti at the end of SS1. “By night, it is not easy at all. It was easier in SS2, even if the road was quite slippery. The main goal was to ensure the 7 points from this first leg, which was very important to me,” added the Italian, whose prospects were boosted when Betti suffered a puncture and dropped around 40 seconds.
The Scorpion driver then won four out of six stages on Leg 2 (Betti won the other two) to keep the gap steady, despite problems with his gearbox which necessitated a changeover at the service park in Nice. Rossetti thus went into the nailbiting final leg with 41.3 seconds in hand over Betti and the title in his grasp. But further transmission problems – a perennial bugbear of the Abarth racer – saw Rossetti dropping further time in the morning. Back on the pace for the final three stages, the gap back to Betti grew by the end of the leg, and the rally finish, to a winning margin of 23.6 seconds. Rossetti won just one stage in Leg 3, which gave him seven fastest times out of a rally total of 14 stages. Third placed Maciej Oleksowicz, meanwhile, was almost six and a half minutes adrift at the finish.
But while ‘Rox’ didn't slip from the lead on Leg 3, his lost time meant Betti was the best performer over the final leg and that handed the Peugeot driver the maximum seven points for the day – crucially, just enough to keep the title fight alive to the wire. “I am very happy with my second place,” said Betti. “The car was very well set-up – my only regret are the 40 seconds lost because of my flat tyre, as without this I surely could have reversed the situation.” The final podium position went to Oleksowicz and he moves into third place, two points ahead of Antonín Tlusťák, in the ERC standings as a result. “I am very happy to finish on the podium,” said the Pole. “Then I will definitely participate to the Valais rally in Switzerland, with the main goal to finish third at the European Championship! Here I had fun – it is a very good rally and the car was very well set-up.”
Also in action on the Rallye Antibes Côte d'Azur was Giovanni Vergnano in the Abarth 500 R3T he has used to contest ERC events this year. In the ERC 2WD Cup he finished second overall, losing out to Rok Turk (Peugeot 207 R3T) by 4 mins 12 secs, as well as clinching 17th place overall.
Nieuws, uitslagen e.d. m.b.t. rally's.
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