The challenge in the Eternal City crowned them twice after a flawless performance, both as the winners of the rally and as Italian Rally Champions for the third time, with a remarkable three rounds to spare. Giandomenico Basso and Lorenzo Granai finished second and the third place went to Hayden Paddon and John Kennard, who made a strong comeback.
30.07.2023 - The Rally di Roma Capitale reached its conclusion with a grand celebration as it waved the checkered flag today in Fiuggi after one of the most exciting editions ever witnessed by a large and enthusiastic audience. The event organized by Max Rendina and Motorsport Italia crowned, for the first time, Andrea Crugnola and Pietro Elia Ometto as the true dominators of the Roman race, which was the sixth round of the FIA European Rally Championship and the fifth round of the Sparco Italian Rally Championship.
The Italian series experienced its most intense phase today, as with this fifth consecutive victory, Crugnola, Ometto and their Citroen C3 Rally2 secured the title of Italian Rally Champions 2023 with three rounds to spare. Their remarkable performance was celebrated at the Rally di Roma Capitale, which, for the first time in its history, served as the decisive event for awarding a championship title.
Crugnola and Ometto won eight out of the thirteen scheduled special stages, including the SSS1 "Colosseo ACI Roma," which opened the race on July 28th with an unprecedented spectacle in front of a particularly large audience. On the Colle Oppio circuit, Crugnola secured the first points and made his objective clear, ultimately celebrating his victory in Fiuggi on Sunday after covering over 700 kilometres and almost 200 competitive kilometres in the presence of Mayor Alioska Baccarini and Councilors Laura Latini and Marco Fiorini.
Behind Crugnola, the competition was anything but easy, but it rewarded the excellence of Italian rally racing. Giandomenico Basso and Lorenzo Granai, driving a Skoda Fabia RS, finished in second place overall after a solid performance, a result of their vast experience, even though it was only their second race with the new Czech car. Initially pursuing Crugnola, Basso engaged in an electrifying battle with the French duo Yoann Bonato-Benjamin Boulloud (Citroen C3 Rally2), a confrontation that was decided on the penultimate stage, the second pass on the over 29-kilometer "Santopadre."
It was at this stage that the standings saw a significant shake-up. Bonato was slowed down by a puncture, dropping back to seventh place. This incident allowed Hayden Paddon, the leader of the European series, paired with John Kennard in the Hyundai i20 N Rally2, to claim third place. The New Zealander had been slowed down by a collision on the long "Rocca di Cave-Subiaco" on Saturday, but he made a strong comeback to secure a podium finish, a crucial performance in his pursuit of the continental title.
The punctures on SS12 determined the positions close to the podium. The Italian crews of Mabellini-Lenzi and Campedelli-Canton, both in Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo, lost the chance to finish in the top five on this stage, leaving room for the reigning European champions, Efren Llarena-Sara Fernandez (Skoda Fabia RS Rally2), to secure fourth place despite being 1'54s behind due to radiator damage suffered on SS10. The Power Stage in Fiuggi, the last of the program, decided the fifth place, which went to Bostjan Avbelj and Damijan Andrejka (Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo), ahead of the Austrians Simon Wagner-Gerald Winter (Skoda Fabia RS Rally2).
The Hungarian pairing Miklós Csomós-Viktor Bán ended in eighth place, the Polish Grzegorz Grzyb-Jakub Wróbel in ninth place, and the Czech duo Filip Mareš and Radovan Bucha in tenth place, all driving Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo.
Italian joy was also seen in the ERC Junior and ERC4 categories with the victory of Roberto Daprà and Luca Guglielmetti in the Peugeot 208 Rally4, bringing the colours of ACI Team Italia to the highest step of the podium. In the classification of the Sparco Italian Rally Championship, following Crugnola and Basso, Avbelj secured the points for the third position. As for the Campionato Italiano Promozione, the podium was completed by Ferrarotti-Bizzocchi and Bottarelli-Bosi, also driving Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo.
Gianandrea Pisani found satisfaction in winning the 2WD Italian Rally Championship again and with five victories out of five rounds, he was crowned Italian Champion with three rounds to spare. There was also a first Italian triumph on the Roman roads for Riccardo Pederzani, who won the third round of the Italian Rally Junior Championship. The driver from Varese, navigated by Edoardo Brovelli, displayed the speed to outperform his ACI Team Italia rivals, all driving Renault Clio Rally5 cars managed by Motorsport Italia and equipped with Pirelli tires.
"At the finish line, we are filled with great satisfaction," commented Max Rendina, "We have put in significant effort to create this event, and the entire staff has worked to the maximum. I want to thank all the institutions that supported us, starting with Roma Capitale, Regione Lazio, the Department for Sport of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, CONI, the Automobile Club d'Italia, the two Provinces we crossed and the 42 municipalities, as well as all our partners. My sincere congratulations to Andrea Crugnola and Pietro Elia Ometto. It has been over ten years since a crew secured the Sparco Italian Rally Championship with three rounds to go, and I am particularly proud that this has happened at the Rally di Roma Capitale, an event they have pursued for many editions and have now conquered with great merit".