The rally legend San Marino: The drifters of yore

Renata Giorgi
The rally legend of San Marino
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D he mountain is calling. And 80,000 fans are coming. At the rally legend, the dwarf state of San Marino is in a state of emergency every year. The rally has no status. No World Championship points will be awarded. But it's anything but a coffee trip. On the contrary: the gassing is full here. Jari-Matti Latvala, the vice world champion, drove his WRC Polo and was impressed: 'There's no rally like this anywhere. Here you can see a WRC-Xsara, a Lancia Stratos and a fire-breathing Audi Quattro S1.

Add to that all the great drivers and then this audience. ' On Friday night the gearbox let him down. 'If I fail, then I usually just want to leave. But watching is fun here. A unique atmosphere. It's great how the audience goes along. We'll be back tomorrow.' And his copilot Miikka Anttila confessed: 'The exams are not easy. They are a challenge even for us professionals.'

Didier Oriol with the WRC Xsara overall winner

Even an experienced ex-professional like Markku Alén has his problems. He was in the Lancia 037 - and confessed after the first few meters: 'The car scares me. I have wheels spinning in every gear.' After the first stages, the Finn was only in fourth place and then tightened his belt a little for the first stage of the day. 'I drove way too fast for my age,' said the new front runner in his classic car category. Also: 'I notice that we are all getting a little older,' joked the 63-year-old Finn. 'We only see each other at funerals or once a year at the rally legends in San Marino.'

Didier Oriol didn't like hearing such sayings. Despite his 56 years of age, he was bursting with vigor and drove the WRC Xsara to an undisputed overall victory. Also in the Xsara: Armin Schwarz, who competed in San Marino with his American co-pilot. It was a leap into the deep end: the Xsara has at least three active differentials, and Schwarz quarreled: 'On the first few stages, I'm busy clicking my way through the five mappings.' Black had just established himself in second place when the Xsara suddenly went up in flames. A sleeve on the drive shaft had burst and hot fat had caught fire. The fire was quickly extinguished, but after that the sensors went crazy. 'The circuit is crazy. I'm afraid that suddenly theReverse gear is possible, 'admitted the ex-WRC professional, but still defended second place.

World champion as co-driver

I was also a little nervous about this year's San Marino. Not about the VW Golf Group A with its around 210 hp. More like my co-driver. I was allowed to drive the rally with Luis Moya. The Spaniard was at the side of Carlos Sainz He has won the World Rally Championship twice. And he loves challenges.

He has been studying German for around three months and he was determined to read the notes, the prayer book, in German It didn't always work perfectly. Especially with the additional information that was written about the curves, he found it difficult. An example: 'Two left crosses.' Of course, he meant crossing. And he continued to practice diligently. 'My roommates have to think I'm crazy I lie in bed at night and read the notes aloud. '

' This is my life '

We trained in a Golf R. And after a few tests, Luis Moya confessed: 'When you've driven the best rally driver in the world - and then get into the car with a journalist, you're skeptical. But I feel good. 'And when we were out in the rally car, Luis Moya was in his element. The note was perfectly timed. And he confessed:' I love rallying. I just really enjoy reading the sheet music perfectly. This is my life. '

Luis Moya became famous when the duo Sainz /Moya failed in the fight for the World Rally Championship at the finals a few meters from the finish in England with a defect and Moya had his helmet full Force fired through the rear window of the Toyota. Today he is rather embarrassed. Moya: 'Not a week goes by without someone reminding me.' The Spaniard has lived through all the ups and downs of this sport. In Italy it was rather lows.

Initial difficulties

The Golf oversteered critically after the shakedown, and the steering wheel was tilted. The diagnosis: A short stretch of gravel during the warm-up test had played a bad role for the rear axle. The left rear wheel was crooked in the wheel arch. The mechanics swarmed out immediately, got a suitable axle from a junkyard - unfortunately that was also crooked. But the second fit. Shortly before the start first night stage was the go lf ready for action again.

After the first stage at the last time control came the next drama. Luis stood outside and suddenly shouted: 'Turn off the engine, we're losing oil.' On the same piece of gravel as in the morning, a stone had dented the underbody of our car and punched a small hole in the oil pan.

There was no choice: the mechanics swung the wrenches again.An hour and a half later, just in time for the start of the second stage, the Golf was back on its feet. In the middle of the next stage we rolled uphill without propulsion. A drive shaft was broken. This defect had also been fixed by the start of the next morning. And then the Golf ran without any problems.

Fire-breathing Audi Quattro S1 with 600 hp

We changed the co-drivers: Instead of Luis Moya, Peter Thul now read the prayer book with me. He usually drives with Michael Gerber in the Audi Quattro S1. The 600 hp bullet from the wild Group B rally days is a real highlight for every fan. And Moya did not want to miss this ride. 'It's like being in a rocket', was his comment after the first test kilometers: 'No matter what they tell you about the performance and the propulsion, you must have experienced it yourself.'

When he was then for the After getting back into the Golf with me on the second Saturday round, he confessed somewhat disappointed: 'I was so concentrated reading the notes quickly enough that I didn't pay any attention to the development of my performance.' The next round in our golf couldn't really lift his spirits either. At first shifting caused problems, then I couldn't go into a gear at all. The diagnosis: The clutch had stopped working.

Vintage rally vehicles from VW

On the final day , Luis Moya had meanwhile traveled to Greece for the Passat dealer presentation, so I switched to the Golf G60. Bernhard Kadow, the boss of VW Classic, was now at my side. Not only does he have rally experience, he also has a clear concept for future VW outings. The rally cars that have won events and championships should only be exhibited. He also wants to build three to four emergency vehicles, 'which are as close as possible to the original vehicles'. Further deployments at the rally legend in San Marino should therefore be taken care of.


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