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GP Week : Issue 10
T HIRTY-TWO year-old Luca Rossetti was unknown outside his native Italy when he won the Ypres Rally in Belgium last year. It was his very first rally abroad. In the last 12 months he has entered three IRC events in his Peugeot Italia 207 S2000 and won them all. This included the Sanremo Rally back in Italy and the Istanbul Rally in Turkey, his second foreign event. But still nobody knew where he had come from, unless they closely followed Italian national rallying. “In fact I started rallying 10 years ago, only doing two or three events a year to begin with, but then began in earnest in 2001 in the Peugeot Cup,” he confirms. “Since then I think I must have amassed a record for the different types of cars I have rallied. Little Group As, World Rally Cars (Peugeot, Toyota and Ford), Group Ns, Super 1600s and now Super 2000.” And in the last 17 rallies, in Super 2000 cars, he has finished on the podium on all except two, finishing every time. His domination ofinternational Super 2000 is second to none. It is obviously a formula which suits him well, but in the strict regulatory regime how does he do it? “The rules are intelligent and clever. Nobody can say they have a mechanical advantage. If you drive a World Rally Car, there is a world of difference between, for example, a good Focus WRC and a bad one. “In Super 2000, like in Super 1600, everyone is on a technically level playing field. The way to get ahead in this S2000 business, is getting the best set-up on your car, and also taking the best lines through the stages. Set-up is everything.” Luca works with two engineers, both Fabbri – the father and son – working for Peugeot Italia. “My success is that they can understand exactly what I try to explain to them. They go away and study their computers and know what needs to be done.” Luca drives a Peugeot, a model which from results seems to have a slight edge over the Fiat. “I really do not know why, but I sense that Peugeots are more popular with the spectators! When you think about it, Peugeot started one year after Fiat but had the advantage of their World Rally Car experience. Their suspension, chassis, dampers are all directly out of the 206WRC and I think it shows.” Luca’s plans for 2008 revolve firstly around the Italian championship and then the European series. “As far as the IRC is concerned, so many of the events are the same as the ERC, so if you do well in the ERC, automatically you are doing well in the IRC. “The IRC, however, is fantastic. Here in Portugal you could honestly say any one of 12 drivers could win – now wouldn’t the World Rally Championship like to be the same! “Okay, maybe we are not on the same level as the Loebs and the Gronholms of this world, but there are so many drivers all of whom are on a comparable level, and that makes for great rallying!” Rally Portugal winner Luca Rosetti remains a relative unknown on the rallying scene. MARTIN HOLMES lifts the veil … Master of his Trade WRC PORTUGAL >> 47