Breen and Østberg both retire from Sanremo

Neither of the WRC stars reached the end but there was a thrilling finish as Fabio Andolfi edged Andrea Crugnola


Both Craig Breen and Mads Østberg retired from this weekend’s Rally Sanremo, leaving Fabio Andolfi to take an 11th hour win over 2020 Italian champion Andrea Crugnola.

Breen was out for some extra seat time ahead of the next round of the World Rally Championship in Croatia, but there was also the temptation to claim a hattrick in Sanremo having won the 2019 event in a Škoda Fabia R5 and last year’s in a Hyundai i20 R5.

Competing in a Ford Fiesta Rally2 for the first time, Breen settled into an early fifth place after the first day, 17 seconds down on overnight leader Crugnola with other Italian championship runners Giandomenico Basso, Damiano De Tomasso and Andolfi all also ahead of him.

The M-Sport driver swiftly moved up to fourth on Saturday’s first test at the expense of Basso who retired when he bent the right-rear wheel of his Hyundai i20 N Rally2.


But Breen wasn’t able to cash in his profit. Small issues had troubled him and co-driver John Rowan for the entire weekend until finally the engine overheated on Saturday’s second stage and put them out the rally.

Østberg’s event meanwhile never really got going. The 2020 WRC2 champion headed to Sanremo on a bit of a roll, winning two rallies (Salgó Rally in Hungary and Rally of Nations Guanajuato) in the last two weekends.

Having outperformed Adrien Fourmaux in Mexico last week, Østberg came to his first ever Sanremo keen to pull off a similar feat and prove his pace against another M-Sport Ford driver in Breen.

But he was robbed of that chance right from the off as Østberg’s Citroën C3 Rally2, run by the same Movisport team as Crugnola, had a “power issue” that restricted him to 12th place, close to 45s down on his team-mate after just two full-length stages.


His mechanics attempted to fix the problem for service but it wasn’t to be – Østberg was forced to park up early on Friday evening and wouldn’t return on Saturday.

Out front, Crugnola was irresistible for the vast majority of the rally. The Italian championship leader – who’s back in a Citroën this season after losing his title last year when driving a Hyundai – led from the very first stage and wasn’t outside of the top two positions for the entire weekend.

But after SS9 was canceled, Škoda rival Andolfi set a stunning time on SS10 that was 20.9s better than Crugnola (who was still second fastest) to jump into a 1.8s lead with only one stage remaining.

Crugnola attacked the final 4.5-mile test with intent but could only claw back 0.9s, giving Andolfi his first ever Italian championship victory by an equivalent margin.


It means Crugnola’s wait for a Sanremo win goes on, as he briefly thought he’d won the rally last year when Breen was handed a 10s penalty for a late check-in that was later annulled due to heavy traffic on a road section.

De Tomasso finished 45.5s adrift in third place to complete the podium in another Fabia Rally2 evo.

Rally Sanremo result:

1 Fabio Andolfi/Manuel Fenoli (Škoda) 1h19m02.0s
2 Andrea Crugnola/Pietro Elia Ometto (Citroën) +0.9s
3 Damiano De Tomasso/Giorgia Ascalone (Škoda) +45.5s
4 Stefano Albertini/Danilo Fappani (Škoda) +1m13.0s
5 Giacomo Scattolon/Giovanni Bernacchini (Škoda) +1m37.7s
6 Simone Miele/Eleonora Mori (Škoda) +4m07.5s
7 Pedro/Fulvio Florean (Volkswagen)+5m01.1s
8 Christopher Lucchesi Jr/Titti Ghilardi (Škoda) +5m17.3s
9 Antonio Rusce/Giulia Paganoni (Hyundai) +7m00.9s
10 Gianandrea Pisani/Fabrizio Vecoli (Peugeot) +11m46.6s