The two-stage Costa Brava Rally | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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The two-stage Costa Brava Rally

Historic Rally: the Costa Brava Rally opened the FIA European Historic Sporting Rally Championship and FIA Trophy for Historic Regularity Rallies. Usually held as one event, the two were held separately this year, taking place a week apart

Set in Girona, this year the 64th Costa Brava Rally was exclusively dedicated to the European and Spanish Historic Sporting Rally Championships – in other words there were no speed restrictions, so the rally was purely and simply based on performance. The list of participants left no doubt as to the truly sporting nature of the event. Apart from the usual high number of Porsche 911s and Ford Escort RSs, two Lancia Rally 037s, one Lancia Stratos HF, one Ferrari 308 GTB and, representing J2 period cars (the most recent category accepted into the Championship), one Ford Sierra Cosworth 4x4 and one Lancia Delta HF Integrale 16v lined up on the starting line.     

Former Formula One driver Erik Comas’ main goal for this year is to fully participate in the European Championship, and even win the title. Championship fans will be pleased with this news, given that the chances of seeing a Lancia Stratos in action have become rare. Spanish spectators were, however, quickly disillusioned, as the beautiful Italian model fell victim to its gear box from the start of the rally. Antonio Sainz (brother of Carlos Sainz), racing in a Porsche 911 was forced, like Comas, to retire on the first day of the rally.   

With the 7 fastest times over 11 special stages, the Spanish team of Alonso-Belzunces led their Sierra Cosworth to victory in Category 4, outstripping by nearly one and a half minutes the Lancia 037 driven by the French team of Cazaux-Clavier, winners of the remaining 4 scratch times.

Category 2 was dominated by the Porsche Carrera cars, with the Norwegian team of Valter Jensen-Erik Pedersen easily finishing ahead of Swedish couple Anders and Ingrid Johnsen. Argentinians Perez Companc-Volta were awarded the Category 3 title in their Ford Escort RS1800, while the usual Category 1 rivals, Italy’s Antonio Parisi and Finland’s Sverre Norrgård, took centre stage in their Category, with the Italian managing to get ahead of the Finn’s BMW 2002 Ti with his Porsche 911.

Held on the outskirts of the town of Lloret del Mar, the opening event of the FIA Trophy for Historic Regularity Rallies held a week later was a clear victory for the Belgium-Luxembourg team of Yves Deflandre and Joseph Lambert in their Porsche 911. At the end of a 1,087-kilometre course, of which 526 kilometres were subject to regularity rules, they outpaced the Spanish team of Giralt-Domingo, driving a Mercedes-Benz 250 CE, by only six tenths of a point (out of 120 in penalties). However, because the Spanish team is not entered in the FIA Trophy, they did not win any points. This victory put Joseph Lambert, 2015 Co-Champion, at the top of the 2016 Trophy co-driver classification, ahead of Italian Francesco Giammarino and Austrian Sebastian Haberl. On the drivers’ side, David Stanley (Austin Healey 3000) from Monaco, who was ranked 14th in the Costa Brava Rally but first among the drivers entered in the FIA Trophy,  took a provisional first place in the Trophy ranking, with 15 points, against the defending champion’s 13 – the Italian Paolo Marcattilj (Porsche 911). 

The next stage of the FIA European Historic Sporting Rally Championship, the famous Sanremo Rally Storico, is scheduled for 10 and 11 April 2016. The second round of the FIA Trophy for Historic Regularity Rallies, baptised the Coppa dei Fiori, will also take place then.