Giandomenico Basso came through to claim Abarth's first win in over twelve months on Saturday when he took the spoils on the Principe de Asturias Rally in Spain, the seventh round in the 2008 Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
Basso and Peugeot Belgium's Nicolas Vouilloz had ended the long opening day, characterised by extremely variable weather, tied on time in the lead. During the second day though, Basso pulled ahead pushing extremely hard in the morning.
Vouilloz fought back on the final loop of stages however, reducing the gap to just 12.2 seconds heading into the final test. But once again the two rivals set exactly the same time, and Basso thus duly claimed gold – his first triumph since he took the spoils on the Madeira Rally in August last year.
"After the opening day of the rally when I finished with the same time as Nicolas overnight, I knew it was going to be a big fight today," said Basso. "Luckily we had a good day although it was quite stressful: I pushed hard in the morning and took a few more risks than I had done on Friday, when it was wetter.
"On the first stage of the final loop we had a spin, but luckily we did not lose too much time. Right up to the end it was a very intense fight with Nicolas, so we had to be really careful on the last couple of stages not to throw it all away. This win has been a long time coming and now I aim to do it again in Sanremo, which is one of my favourite rallies."
Second meanwhile was nonetheless good enough to allow Vouilloz to extend his championship lead, something that was particularly useful in the absence of IRC series frontrunner Luca Rossetti, who was contesting a clashing Italian Championship rally.
"In the morning I didn't have so much confidence, as we had a lot of understeer even though we were on the same tyres as Giandomenico. Then I felt slightly more confident in the afternoon but it was too late," Vouilloz reflected.
"We tried to push as hard as we could in order to make up the time, but Giandomenico drove very well today and the gap was too big. I'm happy with second place on what has been a really complicated rally with the changing weather: it's another podium finish and it puts us in a good position for the championship."
Freddy Loix, Vouilloz's team-mate, was third in Spain despite suffering power steering problems on the second stage today. The Belgian slid off the road but was still able to ensure his place on the final podium.