The screaming naturally aspirated S2000 trailblazer

Peugeot and Škoda may steal the headlines when thinking about the S2000 heyday, but the Fiat Punto was among the first

Punto S2000 Girardo

Think Super 2000 and a number of cars might come to mind. The Peugeot 207 that Kris Meeke used to win the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in 2009. The Škoda Fabia that Sébastien Ogier drove as Volkswagen prepared to launch its 2013 assault on the World Rally Championship.

The Peugeot and Škoda certainly weren’t the only S2000 cars but are probably the ones that best define the support category that reigned before the turbocharged Rally2 (previously R5) cars we know today.

Plenty of other manufacturers were represented during that era of course. The Fiesta was highly successful, but there was also S2000 versions of the Proton Satria, Toyota Corolla and MG ZR among others.

Among the first to develop a car to the S2000 regulations however was Fiat, as its Punto S2000 launched in 2006. Just like rivals, it featured a 2.0-litre engine, four-wheel drive and a sequential transmission.

Punto S2000 Girardo

S2000 cars were fast, furious and represent arguably the last hurrah for screaming normally aspirated rally engines before turbocharging took over.

The Punto was successful too. Giandomenico Basso took European Rally Championship titles in 2006 and 2009. Luca Rossetti followed that up with two more in 2010 and 2011, while Basso also claimed the 2006 Intercontinental Rally Challenge crown.

With Ypres Rally taking place this weekend, it seems only fitting then that this week’s dive into the Girardo & Co archive shows the Punto S2000 in action in Belgium almost 15-years to the day later.

The man at the wheel is Basso. On that occasion, he finished eighth in the IRC standings, but was the top ERC runner and would claim that second ERC crown come the end of the year.

The Fiat (rebadged as an Abarth from 2008) couldn’t match the might of Ford, Peugeot and Škoda in the later years of S2000, but there is no doubt it deserves its place in the history books.