Giandomenico Basso has followed in the wheel tracks of rallying legend Colin McRae by winning Rallye Sanremo for a second time, as his sixth victory in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge followed a dominant performance on the asphalt event at the wheel of an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC.
Basso, who led from start to finish, was all but assured of top spot when he won the gruelling 44-kilometre Ronde night stage on Friday. It was one of five fastest stage times the Italian recorded during the two-day rally in the Liguria region and enabled him to build an interim advantage of 25.6secs. He secured first place by completing the final stage, shown live on RAI Sport
on Saturday afternoon, with a margin of 35.7secs over Jan Kopecký.
“I am very happy to be winning here because Sanremo is a fantastic event," Basso said at the finish, "But it's not just winning here that's important, it's winning here in Sanremo as part of the IRC, a very esteemed series that I have a lot of affection for. It might have looked easy from the outside but no win is easy. I was able to make the difference on Ronde and after that I controlled my advantage to the finish.”
Czech Kopecký finished second in his Fabia Super 2000 to secure a third IRC manufacturers' title for Škoda on the back of four stage wins, and moves ahead of team-mate Juho Hänninen in the drivers' standings after the Finn crashed out on Ronde.
“We have won a valuable hat-trick of IRC titles and made a historic achievement with the Škoda Fabia Super 2000 by becoming the most successful brand of the IRC," motorsport head Michal Hrabánek said, "This is indeed the best reward for all the team members in return for the top-class work they have been putting in throughout this successful period. The end of this season is still ahead of us, though, and our ambition is to win also the drivers' title.”
Alessandro Perico bagged his maiden IRC podium in third in the leading Peugeot 207 S2000. Federico Gasperetti was the fastest IRC Production Cup contender on all ten stages to win with ease in his Renault Mégane RS. Meanwhile, Simone Campedelli clinched his second IRC 2WD Cup victory of 2012.
Behind Perico, Stefano Albertini took a fine fourth in his similar Peugeot having feared he might be forced out when his car would not restart at the midday regroup. Paolo Andreucci clinched his seventh Italian title in fifth place. With title rival Umberto Scandola hitting trouble on Friday's opening test, Andreucci adopted a cautious approach in his Peugeot Italia entry to take the crown. Škoda driver Scandola restarted on day two, but stopped with a mechanical problem after three stages.
Craig Breen, competing in Italy for the first time since his former co-driver Gareth Roberts lost his life in an accident on Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale di Sicilia in mid-June, was battling Stefano Albertini for fourth overall when he picked up a front-left puncture approximately four kilometres into the 20.73-kilometre Colle d'Oggia run on Saturday morning. He eventually finished sixth in his Saintéloc Racing Peugeot, a performance that earned him the prestigious Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy.
Frigyes Turán was seventh for Petter Solberg Engineering despite an engine overheating issue. Simone Campedelli won the IRC 2WD Cup in eighth place although because his Citroën DS3 R3T is not eligible for overall points, Pierre Campana took eighth-place points following his fight back from the broken rear differential on the Ronde stage that dropped him firmly out of contention.