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GP Week : Issue 116
given two days to set up the operation. The drivers covered a lot of kilometres that night – they even had to set up trucks for a servicing operation for the cars who were busy cleaning the stages! It was another rally, a rally within a rally.” And it all went well. Markku Alen won! Marco Pastorino, now one of the most experienced co- ordinators in the rally business, was a youngster at the time: “ We had set ourselves up at the famous hairpin on the Santa Lucia stage and settled down camping, sleeping a few hours during the night before the cars arrived early next morning. Predictably a lot of spectator cars were passing through in the night, but then some much faster, noisier cars with powerful lights arrived! “ We saw big lights coming through the darkness but initially we thought somebody was a little bit over the top, like an over-excited rally fan. Then we realised it was a Lancia 037. Everybody was surprised – he was going fast, really fast. I do not remember how many times this happened ... in those days we never knew what it was all about, but later we did!” This was all part of the background to how Lancia was such a powerful force in rallying 20-30 years ago. Bortoletto again: “ This was not a unique incident. Another time in Monte Carlo there was still a lot of snow on the stages two days before the rally and Silecchia prepared two or three big tankers with water and salt to make the snow on the roads disappear before the rally arrived. “At the end of the Concentration Runs when the conditions could be accurately predicted, the company made an agreement with the French departments to put the salt on the stages. “And then in the 1983 Monte Carlo, the long Sisteron stage was largely clear tarmac before it then ascended into the hills where snow was on the roads, and studded tyres were required. Nightmare tyre choice decision! Lancia arranged to put a pit stop in the middle of the stage, just before the stage went from the valley into the hills. Abarth had special wheel nut guns designed and built, which could undo all the nuts simultaneously. The whole pit stop only took 45 seconds so the rally cars could set off again before the next car passed.” 45 seconds to change the wheels? They may have won that rally but now we know why Lancia never won a Formula 1 race. Moral of the story? Please don’t complain. There is something quite special enough about rallying as it is, without the urge to change what we have. Left: Lancia Rally 037 at the Sanremo Rally en-route to winning the final stage. Right: Caudio Bortolrtto then Lancia Team Manager and brains behind the road sweeping strategy that helped Lancia stay ahead of the four- wheel drive Audi Quattros. WRC FEATURE >>