From General Article [ 18/02/2008 ].
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During the 2008 season Abarth will compete in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge thanks to the sponsorship of Selenia, an important lubricant manufacturer that recently became part of the international Petronas group, and has also entered into a partnership agreement with Abarth to develop high performance lubricants dedicated to the legendary scorpion.
The Brembo and Sabelt brands will also partner Abarth in this rally season: the former is world leader in the production of braking systems, while the latter is leader in the field of racing safety harnesses. Sabelt and Brembo signed an agreement a few months ago as main partners for the development and marketing of kits and accessories through a new company, Brembo Performance Spa. The new company will develop the product concepts, working in co-design with Fiat, guaranteeing their industrialisation in its own manufacturing plants and managing customer logistics right down to delivery of the products to dealers and authorised workshops.
The two official Grande Punto Abarth S2000s that will compete in the IRC will be driven by Giandomenico Basso, with his navigator Mitia Dotta, and by Finnish driver Anton Alen, teamed up with Timo Alanne. There will be 10 races in the championship, after the cancellation of the Safari Rally because of the current political unrest in Kenya, and it will start on April 4 with the Istanbul Rally in Turkey. This will be followed by races in Portugal (May 9-10), Belgium, with the Ypres 24 Hours (June 27-28), Russia (July 11-12), the Portuguese island of Madeira (August 1-2), the Czech Republic with the Barum Rally (August 22-23), Spain (September 12-13), Italy with the San Remo Rally (September 25-27), Switzerland with the Valais Rally (October 24-25) and the concluding event in China (November 7-9).
Basso, 34 years old, started his career in Fiat single-make trophies, winning the Fiat Cinquecento Trophy in 1998 and the Fiat Punto Abarth Trophy in 2003, results that opened the way to a professional career. In 2006, he won the European Championship and the International Rally Challenge with the Fiat Grande Punto, and last year he won the Italian Drivers’ title, helping Abarth to take the manufacturers’ title. Last year Basso also won the Madeira Rally (Portugal), which is valid for the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
Anton Alen, the son of the celebrated driver Markku Alen, who was an official Fiat Abarth driver from 1974 to 1989, joined the Abarth Team last year and immediately showed his skill at the wheel, winning the Russian Rally, valid for the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, with authority. A case of a passion and a great talent that have been passed down from father to son.
The Grande Punto Abarth Super 2000 swept the board in its first two seasons (2006 and 2007), winning the first edition of the International Rally Challenge, the 2006 European Championship, two Italian Drivers’ titles (in 2006 and 2007), one Italian Manufacturers’ title (2007), and Italian S2000 Championship (in 2006, when this category was excluded from the overall title), the Spanish Championship and the Madeira Regional Championship (Portugal).
The Grande Punto Abarth S2000 and its official drivers have won a total of 21 races in two years in the IRC, Eurorally and Italian championships. There were also 13 victories in 2007 by private drivers, many of which in testing, prestigious events, such as the Antibes Rally (won by Renato Travaglia) and the Condroz Rally in Belgium, won by Francois Duval. And we should also mention the excellent second place of Turkish driver Volkan Isik in the 2007 European Championship.
Thanks to the collaboration of Metis and Api-IP, the Grande Punto Abarth S2000 will be competing again in the Italian Rally Championship with two cars driven by fast drivers Andrea Navarra and Renato Travaglia. Finally, Umberto Scandola is a pilot from the Abarth Team that will carry out development tests as well as several prestigious international competions.