Rally di Roma DirtFish diary: Back in the groove

David Evans enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere of rallying for the first time in 132 days

AUTO – ERC – RALLY DI ROMA CAPITALE 2020

It’s back. We’re back. All is well with the world again.

It’s been 132 days since Rally México, but now international rallying is on the road again. And DirtFish is right there with it. Arriving in the service park for Rally di Roma this morning was a slightly surreal moment.

But a very, very good one.

It was a also a little bit odd being back on a European Rally Championship round complete with free practice and qualifying, but today reminded me how interesting Thursdays used to be on WRC rounds. Isn’t it about time we brought qualifying back to rallying’s highest level and gave some meaning to shakedown?

Apologies today have to go to Dani Sordo. Hyundai’s superstar Spaniard is present in Fiuggi to win Rally Stars Roma Capitale in an i20 Coupe WRC, but was delayed this morning by a minor DirtFish kit failure – on the third time we captured pictures and words to bring you his video.

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Morning done, it was time to ship out to Italy’s capital for the ceremonial start and parade through the streets of Rome. Opinion on some of the city’s more fascinating architecture was split in the DirtFish [Hyundai] Tucson.

Turns out one man’s (two actually) Flavian Amphitheatre built in 80AD to hold 80,000 Romans desperate to see gladiators take on lions, tigers and heinous criminals who’d dared to criticize Emperor Titus for his choice of shoes (or hat, or possibly even both) is another man’s boring old place.

The Colosseum is one of the most impressive man-made sights in the world. Regardless of what DirtFish cameraman Heikki reckons.

And what makes the Colosseum even better is a bunch of Rally1 and Rally2 cars parading themselves before the very doors which once opened to welcome Marcus Aurelius and his mates 1,900 years ago.

But what was slightly surprisingly was the number of people around what is one of the world’s most visited tourist sites. Coronavirus ravaged Italy’s northern half earlier this year and folk are clearly taking their time to return.

But enough with the history. We’re here for the rallying and the competition comes to life tomorrow morning. As you know, Giandomenico Basso was fastest through qualifying and has elected to start second on the road through the bumpy, broken stages that lie south of Fiuggi.

Today ends the same way tomorrow did: across the road from the hotel in a fabulously local Italian restaurant; no menus, not a word of English spoken, but exquisite tucker and a very fine glass of wine.

Bravo, Italia.

Until tomorrow.

Photos:FIA ERC

Words:David Evans

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