Rally / 28 September 2010
HONDA WINS TWO-WHEEL DRIVE CLASS IN IRC SANREMOFor the second consecutive year, Honda has won the prestigious two-wheel drive class on IRC Rallye Sanremo in northern Italy, beating all the established opposition in the closely-fought R3 division.
Italian driver Sandro Sottile, at the wheel of a Honda Civic Type R R3 entered by Team Repetto Motorsport, claimed the two-wheel drive honours after finishing 18th overall, ahead of many other powerful 2WD cars. The R3 class, for two-litre, two-wheel drive machines, has proved to be an extremely popular category, with cars from a number of well-known manufacturers represented.
Rallye Sanremo, which formed part of the World Rally Championship until 2003 before being adopted by the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, is one of the most demanding events on the calendar thanks to tight and twisty mountain roads allied with variable weather. Competitors also have to face the challenge of the 44-kilometre La Ronde stage, one of the longest in European rallying, which is run at night.
Despite all these stern tests, and weather that ranged from bright sunshine to sudden downpours, Sottile and his Honda never missed a beat. The Italian led the two-wheel drive class from the opening day, consistently setting stage times that were in the top 20, despite the presence of 32 premier class Super 2000 cars: a record for the event.
Two other Civic Type R R3s, driven by Hungarians Laszlo Vizin and Janos Puskadi, were also in action to gain valuable international experience. Sadly both drivers were out of luck and retired after the rally's eighth stage: Vizin rolled over, Puskadi for a fuel system failure.
JAS Motorsport team principal Alessandro Mariani added: "Once again, the Honda Civic Type R R3 has underlined its competitiveness in front of some of the biggest opposition it has ever faced. We are extremely happy with the car's performance on this testing surface, so we look forward to the future with a lot of confidence and of course we would like to thank Sandro Sottile and the Team Repetto for their excellent job this weekend."
Honda's next event will be the all-gravel Rally of Scotland, round 11 of the IRC from October 15-17, where a Civic won the two-wheel drive class last year.