Adamo’s Italian rally reflections part three – 2006

Hyundai chief's Italian rallying memories conclude with a great day for Abarth


The final part of Andrea Adamo’s Rally Sanremo trilogy moves us forward 20 years from part two.

That 15-year-old school boy who delighted in Group B for the first time in 1986 is now leading Abarth’s assault on international rallying – an assualt that made a major breakthrough on the 2006 Sanremo round of what was then the International Rally Challenge.

To be involved in a first home win for a manufacturer since Andrea Aghini’s 1992 success with Lancia was something special.

“I think you know Sanremo is a special rally for me,” Hyundai Motorsport team director Adamo says. “And 2006 was a very special one. I was back on the rally in 2017 when we were there with Hayden [Paddon]. That was emotional to go back and remember to 2006.”

The 2006 event wasn’t, it has to be said, a normal one. So heavy was the early autumn rain that the opening day’s action was canceled.

When day two got underway, Abarth’s main man Paolo Andreucci progressed from third to second to the lead on the first three stages. After which, he controlled proceedings beautifully and won the event.

“When Paolo won, that was the first win on Sanremo for the Punto, my car,” says Adamo.

“It was a difficult event and we were losing some of the stages. When the rally started, the rain stopped, it was sunny in the last day.

“Earlier in the month, Michelin had done a lot of development early in September and these tires helped.

“It’s always emotional for me to go to this place, to go to this rally whatever the occasion, but when I go there and we win with a car I designed and with my team it was really nice – especially because the service park was in the same place where they made scrutineering on the 1985 event, the first one I went on with my father.”

Andreucci was in Sanremo in 2006 chasing Italian Championship points. The affable driver from Cuneo went on to win the domestic title, the third of his 11 national crowns, and Abarth lifted the inaugural four-round International Rally Challenge (which would become the Intercontinental Rally Challenge a season later) title with Giandomenico Basso.