Audi sportscar ace Rinaldo Capello showed that he has another string to his bow by taking a dominant victory in the annual end-of-season Monza Rally.
Capello, driving a Ford Focus WRC, got the better of the similar car of MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi, who was forced to mount an impressive fightback after encountering minor problems in the opening stages. The skills of the Audi ace were too much for his fellow Italian, however, and Capello held off Rossi's charge to head a 1-2 result for Pirelli, which also triumphed in the Group N and Super 1600 classes with Mario Stagni and Paolo Oppizzi.
Capello and co-driver Gigi Pirollo dominated proceedings throughout the weekend, taking advantage of Rossi's problems to open out enough of a cushion to withstand the bike ace's fightback.
“Winning again at Monza is a source of huge satisfaction for us,” the Le Mans winner admitted, "The tyres were a huge help, giving us plenty of handling and grip even in temperatures that were higher than those expected. I enjoyed myself and I think everybody watching enjoyed it too – which is just as much of a pleasure for me as actually winning the event.”
Having won for the previous two years, Rossi had to settle for second, as he used the event to get used to the package that he will use on the final round of the WRC, in Britain, next month.
“I really enjoyed the battle with 'Dindo' and all the other drivers," the Yamaha rider noted, "The advice we had from Pirelli's technicians during the event proved to be invaluable, such as the shaving of the tyres before the final stage – an idea of Terenzio Testoni's – which allowed us to climb back to second overall. Now I'm fully concentrated on the Rally GB where, once more, I will be driving the new Ford Focus WRC and hope to finish in the top ten overall.”
Stagni's victory in Group N was not only another success for Pirelli, but also provided a first victory for the all-new Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X.
“We're very pleased with the overall result, which has seen us win the main event plus two of the most important and competitive classes," Pirelli rally manager Mario Isola said, "We're also very happy to see both the quality and quantity of the field.”