Round 1 of the 2021 FIA European Historic Rally Championship, the 36th Sanremo Rally Storico (9-10 April 2021), has attracted a total of 66 cars, with 23 full season entries taking part.
All of the reigning driver and co-driver champions in the four categories are competing in the season opener, with ‘Lucky’ and Fabrizia Pons in Category 4, Karl Wagner and Gerda Zauner in Category 3, Anders and Ingrid Johnsen in Category 2 and Antonio Parisi and Giuseppe D’Angelo in Category 1
Category 4 – 28 Entries
The category for the newest cars eligible for the EHRC has received 28 entries, with 9 eligible to score championship points. The EHRC boasts an impressive selection of rally machinery from the late 1980s, with three Lancia Delta Integrales, a Lancia Rally 037, an Audi Quattro A2, five Ford Sierra Cosworth 4x4s, six BMW M3s, a Subaru Legacy, five Porsche 911s, a Mazda 323 GTX, two Renault 5 GT Turbos, an Opel Corsa GSi, a Fiat Uno, a Peugeot 205 GTi and a Renault 11 Turbo
Reigning champions ‘Lucky’ and Fabrizia Pons will be competing in the distinctive black liveried Keysport Engineering run Lancia Delta Integrale 16v and the Italian team will be looking to get their title hopes off to a good start on home soil.
They will face some stiff opposition from several quarters, including former French Rally Champion Jean François Mourgues and Denis Giraudet in a BMW M3.
There are two further Italian entries who are eligible for championship points in Sanremo. Lucio Da Zanche and Daniele De Luis are competing in a Porsche 911 SC, while Edoardo Valente and his Swiss co-driver Jeanne Francoise Revenu will be driving the Lancia Rally 037.
Spain’s Daniel Alonso Villaron returns to the EHRC, with new co driver Fernandez Alejandro Lopez, in the Past Racing run Ford Sierra Cosworth 4x4, with Austrian Alfons Nothdurfter and Juergen Nolte from Germany also entering the Sanremo Rally in a Ford Sierra Cosworth 4x4.
Finland’s Ville Silvasti and Risto Pictilainen will be challenging for the overall win on the Sanremo in their Audi Quattro A2, last seen in the championship during the Lahti Historic Rally in August 2019.
Spain’s Cao Sampayo and Alejandro Cid Alvarez will be in the Aukor Racing run Renault 11 Turbo, the first time the Renault has been seen in the EHRC in recent years.
Category 3 – 14 Entries
Category 3 might be half the size of the Category 4 entry, but the quality certainly makes up for the small quantity, with four of the cars eligible for championship points. The category will feature four Porsche 911s, an Audi Quattro, three VW Golf GTis, a Ford Escort RS, two Fiat 127s, a Fiat Ritmo 75, an Opel Kadett GTE and a Volvo 244.
Karl Wagner and Gerda Zauner will be back in the distinctive bright yellow Porsche 911 to defend their 2019 title. The Austrians will be facing their nemesis from the previous season as ‘Zippo’ and Denis Piceno will be competing on home soil in the Audi Quattro.
Germany’s Sigfried and Renate Mayr will be competing in a Volvo 244, while Jean Paul Palmero and his Italian co-driver Mattia Pastorino will be behind the wheel of another Porsche 911.
Category 2 – 19 Entries
The Category 2 field will feature 19 cars, with 8 entered for the full EHRC season. The grid includes seven Porsche 911s, an Alfa Romeo GTAm 1750, a VAZ2101, a FIAT 127, an Opel Kadett GTE 2.0, a FIAT Abarth 124 Rally and seven Ford Escorts in various guises.
Reigning Champions Anders and Ingrid Johnsen will be back out in the white Tractive Motorsport Transmission Porsche 911 RSR but will face strong opposition from several quarters.
Former Category 2 champions Laszlo Mekler and Edit Mekler Miko will be behind the wheel of their Scuderia Coppa Amici run Alfa Romeo, while two all Italian crews will be out to win at home. Paolo Pasutti and Giovanni Battista Campeis will be competing in their Team Bassano Porsche 911 RSR, while Maurizio Pagella and Roberto Brea will also be in a Rododendri Historic Rally run Porsche 911, theirs being a Carrera RS.
Category 1 Vice Champions Ernie and Karen Graham are competing in Category 2 this season, swapping their Ford Escort Twincam for the more powerful Ford Escort RS1800. Their Flexifly Rally Team will also be running a Ford Escort Mk1 for James Potter and Tim Sayer.
Austrians Richard and Lucie Ronay will also be competing in a Ford Escort, while the distinctive VAZ2101 of Estonian teammates Villu Mattik and Arvo Maslenikov will be back on the stages this season.
Category 1 – 5 Entries
Category 1 is an all-local affair, with all five cars entered by Italian teams. Two of the five cars are eligible for EHRC points, with four Porsche 911s being joined by a single BMW 2002 Ti.
2019 Category 1 Champions Antonio Parisi and Giuseppe D’Angelo will be looking to get their title defence off to a great start in the gulf liveried Porsche 911 S. Their main category rival will be their Rododendri Historic Rally teammates Carlo Fiorito and Marina Beronasco in the BMW 2002 Ti.
The Sanremo Rally Storico returns to the FIA European Historic Rally Championship calendar for the first time since 2016 and is Round 1 of the nine round 2021 season. The rally starts on Thursday 8 April, with the first leg of the rally on Friday 9 April featuring six special stages and concludes with the second leg on Saturday 10 April, with 8 special stages.
Image: ZENITH Stratos winning the last two special stages on day 1 of the 31st Sanremo Rally Storico