Briefly. Just briefly, I feared for the folk in the house on the outside of a double-apex left-hander on Via Nazionale, halfway between Cuneo and Savona.
Awesome and stunningly capable as Citroën’s C3 WRC is, it’s probably sub-optimal to have one creating another kitchen window when mamma and pappa Italia are spooning out second helpings of Wednesday night’s ragu.
Actually, that’s nonsense. That was never going to happen. It was just a couple of minutes before six in the evening. Supper in Italy’s never taken that early.
But fleetingly, with all four Pirelli’s drifting towards Casa loveliness in fifth gear, I did wonder.
But I didn’t worry.
Meet Alessandro. With my immediate future being decided by the boots at the end of his legs, he’s my new best friend. Alessandro’s started more than 100 hundred rallies in Italy and he’s won a quarter of them. As a wheel man, Mr Gino’s pretty handy.
This much is obvious as his voice doesn’t raise as much as an octave as he offers his take on the turn we’re working our way through.
“We have fifth gear through here…”
Eyes right, hello house.
A stab of throttle is followed by a stamp on the brake and a flick of the finger. Down a cog.
“And fourth into the second part of the corner.”
Stage finished, I asked him about the moment. He was genuinely puzzled by my line of questioning
He’s driven this stage a few times. He knows it well. But still, I’m very, very impressed.
The crucial part of the mid-corner process was the stab of throttle. The full four-wheel drift would have carried us directly to the kitchen cupboards were it not for Alessandro’s decision to offer each wheel more power.
But the moment longitudinal pull replaced latitudinal push, he scrubbed the speed and tucked us into apex two.
Stage finished, I asked him about the moment. He was genuinely puzzled by my line of questioning. He’d just done what was needed to fire one of the fastest World Rally Cars ever made through a corner. The slide, the throttle, the brake, it was all part of an instinctive process that defines the difference between them and us.
Those who do and those who dream.
By his own admission, Alessandro was living his own dream at the wheel of a car driven by Sébastien Ogier and Esapekka Lappi.
Alessandro is the man behind Gino WRC – a firm now trading in some of the World Rally Championship’s most precious of metal. But not this one. Gino WRC has recently acquired three C3 WRCs, two of which could be yours or mine at the right price. But not this one.
“This one will stay in my own collection,” he grinned.
And that collection is already hugely impressive and includes an ex-Petter Solberg Subaru Impreza WRC and the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC Dani Sordo used to win Rally Italy for the second time.
“To drive the C3,” continued Gino, “to have the chance to drive one of these incredible World Rally Cars really is like a dream. The car is fantastic.
“I have driven a lot of rallies in the R5 car, but this is something else. The car has so much more power, but it’s the grip and the brakes and everything that makes the difference. It’s amazing.”
He’s stopped talking to me. He’s now sitting behind the wheel gazing at the dash ahead of him. He’s talking to his new best friend.
“I love this car.”
And so do I. That’s not really something I ever thought I’d say about the car that Citroën canned when Ogier walked at the end of 2019.
I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy a fair few miles aboard the 2017-2021 generation of World Rally Cars, but the one place I’d never been was bone dry asphalt. And when 2022 came, I thought that chance had gone.
Then Andrea Adamo called.
The man who masterminded Hyundai Motorsport’s most successful period in the world championship has joined Gino WRC as a consultant and knew DirtFish was in northern Italy at the right time.
He had an idea.
It was a very good one. One that found me sitting on the startline, listening to the boost build as launch mode was engaged. In a nanosecond, the handbrake was released and four pre-warmed P Zeros fired Gino and I at the horizon at an eye-watering rate.
There was a moment of slip, but then the mechanical grip joined forces with sticky rubber and we were away. Both Gino and the car were enormously capable.
The low-end torque from second gear curves was just as impressive as the aero-fed downforce shoved precision at the other end of the gearbox. I’m always sad when the time comes to step out of a World Rally Car, but this time I really wanted another go.
And, courtesy of another idea from Andrea, I can. And so can you.
As well as world championship titles, one thing that marked Adamo out as a world class operator at the top of our sport was his ability to think differently.
Gino WRC already has an exceptional range of rally cars for sale – and evolving from a family business that’s all about selling Mercedes, BMW, Aston Martin, Lotus, Maseratis, Volvos and Caterhams across northern Italy, it’s all about delivering on the customer experience – but Adamo is taking this firm to another level.
At next month’s Rally di Alba, Gino WRC will offer for sale the opportunity to sit where Julien Ingrassia sat and do the job the eight-time world champion co-driver did.
“We have a plan to sell the chance to co-drive for Alessandro,” said Adamo. “It’s an amazing opportunity to do something so few people in the world ever get the chance to do: to co-drive in one of the world’s fastest rally cars.”
If you’re one of the lucky eight, you’ll complete a road section and a stage before being replaced by the next luckiest. It doesn’t stop there.
“We’re thinking to make a program to drive the C3 WRC as well,” added Adamo. “We all know there are companies out there offering the chance to drive Formula 1 cars, but nobody else in the world is offering the chance to drive one of these ‘plus’ cars – one of the fastest World Rally Cars ever. That’s special.”
It is special, but it’s also entirely predictable for a company which will re-shape and re-think the whole rally car collector market.
Adamo’s back. And this time he’s as much about the past as he is about the present. And the future.