EHRC - Thrilling FIA EHRC opener goes to Rally Costa Brava rookie Lombardo


Angelo Lombardo shrugged off his lack of event knowledge to claim a debut Rally Costa Brava victory following a typically action-packed start to an FIA European Historic Rally Championship season.

With Giovanni Battista Campeis co-driving his Porsche 911 Carrera RS 3.0, Lombardo registered five fastest stage times and added the Category 2 win to his overall FIA EHRC success.

Olivier Capanaccia claimed the Category 4 honours in second place among the FIA EHRC contenders aboard a BMW M3 as Martin McCormack overcame gearbox issues to complete the top three in another M3, just 3.7s behind Capanaccia.

James Potter (bottom image) beat Antonio Parisi to the Category 1 victory by 10.9s, while there was cause for Spanish celebration in Category 3 when Jesus Manuel Ferreiro (pictured below) triumphed in a Ford Escort RS 1800 MkII.


László Mekler won the new FIA EHRC 1600cc Trophy, while Carlos Sampayo came out on top in the FIA EHRC FWD Trophy classification, another new initiative for the 2024 season.

While Lombardo essentially led from start to finish, the victory battle remained exciting throughout with Capanaccia the first to make his move.

He started SS6 in third place but moved into second and close to within 16.1s of Lombardo by winning Friday’s final test, which was held in heavy rain.

With Lombardo struggling running on dry-weather tyres through the damp Saturday morning stages, Capanaccia narrowed his lead to 4.3s. But with Lombardo going quickest on two of Saturday’s final three stages, victory went to the Italian driver as Capanaccia settled for the runner-up spot.

“I’m so happy, it was two really amazing days, I love it,” said Lombardo. “It was my first time on this rally and I really have to say thank you to my family, my new co-driver Giovanni Battista and, in particular, to my team and my mentor Domenico Guagliardo that makes every time for me the best car for driving.

“From the beginning this rally was so difficult because of the weather, it was a surprise every special stage and it was really hard today. We made a mistake this morning with tyres not for wet and everybody used the wet. We lose many seconds, but we were still in first position. It was a really good battle.”

Capanaccia’s co-driver François Olivier Piazza said: “When we arrive [for SS6] it was raining so we chose the wet tyre and it was a good choice. But the performance was not a surprise because my driver is a very good driver and everything was okay with the car and this afternoon we had no problems.”

McCormack could have challenged for the outright FIA EHRC victory had it not been for his car getting stuck in third gear on SS2 and again on SS6. The Northern Irishman also reported a steering issue and admitted to sliding wide on a damp section shortly before the descent on SS1.

“We were lucky we only lost the time we did and the guys did a great job with the gearbox change in 15 minutes [after SS2],” said MccCormack, who set four fastest stage times (below). “When you look at the time we lost we certainly would have been there or thereabouts, our pace was very good. We had our issues with the gearbox and we had a broken manifold for the last two stages, but it didn’t hamper us too much. It’s always ‘what if’ but we’re still here, we could have jammed one of those gears and got stuck in a stage and the rally could have been over. We’re very happy with what we’ve done here.”


Pascal Perroud finished fourth despite badly damaging his BMW when he crashed five corners from the end of SS9. “I just don’t listen correctly to the note and when I brake it was too late. We crash on the barrier five corners at the end, maybe at 100kph. The car was completely destroyed but they fix the car. It was amazing, they do a brilliant job, it was hard work so a big thanks to my team, I’m happy to be at the end.”

Ron Schumann finished fifth ahead of Valter Pierangioli with Jesus Manuel Ferreiro, Valter Jensen, Michel Ducreux and Guy Trolliet completing the FIA EHRC top 10. Antonio Sainz, Carlos Sainz’s older brother, finished 11th having been hampered by a clutch fault.

Following his capture of the FIA EHRC 1600cc Trophy, László Mekler (below) said: “It was 10 years ago when we were here for the first time with this car so I thought now it’s the time to bring it back, it’s an anniversary. We came here to win the 1600cc Trophy so we are happy.”


FIA EHRC FWD Trophy winner Carlos Sampayo said: “It was an incredible rally with incredible stages. We had some problems with the weather, every time changing and that’s very difficult to choose the right tyres. It’s our third year with this car and we had no problems. We try to do more rallies and push to win the FWD Trophy.”

“Tony”, Pierre Vivier-Muglioni, Anders Johnson, Bertrand Fassio, Alexandre Vernazza, Edoardo Valente, Péter Magoss, Georg Retsperger, Stanislav Budil, Petter Fausko, Enrico Canetti, Jesus Diez Villarroel all retired during the event, while Harold Bunting was a non-starter due to a clutch issue. There was early disappointed for “Zippo”, who stopped on SS1 with broken steering on his Audi Quattro before he restarted on leg two.

Historic Vltava Rally in Czech Republic hosts round two of the nine-event FIA EHRC season from April 19-20.


*Results subject to confirmation