Rally di Roma Capitale - Talking points

Rally di Roma Capitale - Talking points

13.07.2019: Rally di Roma Capitale What: FIA European Rally Championship round 5 of 8* When: 19-21 July 2019 *The third Rally di Roma Capitale to count for European championship points welcomes the reigning ERC1 and ERC3 Junior champions with Nikolay Gryaz


Rally di Roma Capitale
What: FIA European Rally Championship round 5 of 8*
When: 19-21 July 2019




*The third Rally di Roma Capitale to count for European championship points welcomes the reigning ERC1 and ERC3 Junior champions with Nikolay Gryazin and Mārtiņš Sesks taking up their first and second prize drives respectively. Sesks, who won ERC3 Junior in Rome 12 months ago, is making his first appearance on asphalt in an R5 car and his first with new co-driver Uldis Briedis, his long-term coach.



*Zelindo Melegari is a new addition to the Abarth Rally Cup ranks in Rome, the Italian swapping his Mitsubishi Lancer for an Abarth 124 rally to go up against category leader Andrea Nucita, from Italy, and Pole Dariusz Poloński. The trio are eligible for ERC2, as is Kuwait’s asphalt novice Mshari Althefiri.



*Łukasz Habaj (Sports Racing Techologies) heads to Italy with an 11-point title advantage over Saintéloc Jiunor Team’s Alexey Lukyanuk, the defending champion and last year’s Rally di Roma Capitale winner.



*This won’t be Habaj’s first visit to Italy this season, however. The Pole tackled the Italian championship-counting Rallye Sanremo in April and finished eighth overall.



*After a troubled PZM 76th Rally Poland last month, Toksport WRT’s Chris Ingram heads to Italy eager to preserve his ERC1 Junior title lead over ACCR Czech Rally Team’s advancing Filip Mareš, who topped the category for young stars in R5 cars in Poland.


*Germany’s Albert von Thurn und Taxis, a Rome resident for more than 10 years, is switching back to his more familiar ŠKODA Fabia R5 having used a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 on the last two events.


*Rather than changing cars Simone Campedelli, who won the Italian championship section of Rally di Roma Capitale in 2017, is upgrading cars, trading his older-model Ford Fiesta R5 for the latest version of the M-Sport machine.


*Like von Thurn und Taxis, Rally di Roma Capitale is also a ‘home’ event for Brazilian Paulo Nobre, due to the fact his Fabia is run by Rome-based Motorsport Italia.


*Norbert Herczig continues his ERC campaign in a MOL Racing Team Polo, the multiple Hungarian champion still searching for a first podium of 2019.


*Niki Mayr-Melnhof, Vojtĕch Štajf and Lars Stugemo continue their ERC campaigns having skipped the last two events in Latvia and Poland. Double ERC2 champion Tibor Érdi Jr also returns to European duty.


*Former ERC champions Giandomenico Bassoand Luca Rossetti are the men to beat in this year’s Italian championship. After five rounds, Basso, runner-up in Rome last season, is on top by three points.


*Double Rally di Roma Capitale winner Umberto Scandola will try his Hyundai Motorsport N-entered i20 R5 on asphalt for the first time having focused on gravel events so far in 2019.


*Andrea Crugnola, who battled Stéphane Lefebvre for the inaugural ERC Junior title in 2014, steps up to the European championship’s top tier for the first time armed with a Fabia R5.


*FPAK Portugal Team ERC can once again count on its full quota of drivers with Pedro Antunes and Aloísio Monteiro both in action for the squad.


*Having contested the last two gravel-based rounds, Japan’s Hiroki Arai gets to show his skills on asphalt in his Team STARD Citroën. However, with regular co-driver Ilka Minor unavailable, Arai links up with another Austrian, Jürgen Heigl, who has worked as STARD’s team co-ordinator of late.





*Emma Falcón, Catie Munnings and Romanian newcomer Cristiana Oprea will battle for ERC Ladies’ Trophy points in what is Falcón’s second start in ERC1 Junior following her debut on Rally Islas Canarias in early May. Munnings, meanwhile, is back in her Peugeot Rally Academy entry after missing Poland.


*Having completed his first proper gravel rally in Poland, Florian Bernardi returns to his favoured asphalt in a Renault Clio R3T. The Frenchman is aiming to build on his ERC3 class win on Rally Islas Canarias and banish the memories of a troubled Rally di Roma Capitale debut last season.



*Sindre Furseth, who heads the Pirelli-supported ERC3 Junior category standings after four rounds,was also frustrated in Rome in 2018 and is overdue his first category win this year after several podiums.


*Close rival Efrén Llarena has been in a race against time to ready a replacement Peugeot 208 R2 after his original Rallye Team Spain entry was badly damaged in a dramatic crash in Poland, from which Llarena and co-driving mechanic Sara Fernández were lucky to escape unharmed.


*Ken Torn is bidding for a third consecutive ERC3 Junior win but admits his lack of asphalt experience could hold him back in his Ford Fiesta R2T. Gregor Jeets lines up in a second Estonian Autosport Junior Team entry, while Briton James Williams makes his ERC3 Junior debut reliant on Fiesta power.


*ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team twins Elias Lundberg and Grégoire Munster start Rally di Roma Capitale for the first time hoping for a change of fortune after they retired on the same stage in Poland. Erik Cais and fellow ACCR Czech Rally Team driver Jan Talaš are back on their preferred Tarmac in Italy, as is Roman Schwedt, who is reunited with former co-driver Henry Wichura on the back of his career-best fourth in class in Poland. A full ERC Junior preview will be issued on 15 July.


*Unable to secure the funding to continue in ERC1, Orhan Avcioglu steps down to ERC3 in Rome for the first of a planned four-event campaign in a Toksport Peugeot 208 R2.






- Richard Rodgers, photos FIA ERC
 

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13.07.2019 / MaP

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