Talk to drivers about Rallylegend and their eyes light up. It’s an event universally loved as much for the machinery on display as for the atmosphere it generates through San Marino’s city streets.
Concern has, however, been building about the significant numbers of fans pouring into a 24-square-mile microstate on the north-eastern slopes of the Apennine mountains every autumn.
This year, the FIA decided to take a closer look and deployed World Rally Championship safety delegate Michèle Mouton. The runner up in the 1982 world championship was joined at Rallylegend by fellow silver medalist from a season earlier, now FIA president Jean Todt.
Accompanied by San Marino government representative, Todt attended the Friday evening start and the rally village.
Todt praised the efforts of Vito Piarulli and Paolo Valli, the men behind Rallylegend, and their team in demonstrating what can still be achieved through the current coronavirus pandemic.
He said: “I am here, as president of the FIA, to thank and express my closeness to all those who have made it possible to organize Rallylegend, in such a difficult moment, with the COVID-19 virus that has invaded the planet.
“An important signal.
“I have a particular bond of affection with the Republic of San Marino, of which I am ambassador, as well as having been, for many years, honorary president of the San Marino Automotoristic Federation. I visited the Rally Village, where I met many legendary drivers and saw many beautiful cars that reminded me of my past as a world rally co-driver. Then I saw a lot of enthusiasm and passion in the present audience.
“In short, a really beautiful environment.
“I then inquired about the safety of the special stages, where the presence of Michèle Mouton, as FIA inspector for safety, a role she plays in the World Rally [Championship], gives ample guarantees of professionalism and seriousness in the evaluation of the work done, with particular care, by the organizers, as I was told.”
Leading figures in the sport have praised the proactive approach taken by Rallylegend, with one senior source telling DirtFish: “It’s like you say, everybody loves this event. I haven’t been for a few years, but the first time I came I was completely caught up in it. But it’s become so popular, it needed the FIA to come along and just take a look at what’s going on. This is sensible.”