Many historic rallies with vintage cars are held in Italy in some of the most picturesque corners of the country. Participation is subject to the official FIA and ACI Sport regulations. Each event follows the official calendar that also defines the titles at stake for each competition to ensure their validity for the various trophies and official championships.
Credits foto: www.acisports.it
The most important Italian historic rallies
There are many historic rallies in Italy all across the country, including various official competitions, such as the Italian Classic Car Rally Championship. Each stage has various specialities, from national championship races to those reserved for other categories, such as regularity sport and historic rallies entered in the international calendars.
Sanremo Historic Rally
The Sanremo Historic Rally is one of the most popular events for classic car enthusiasts. It includes several racing days for current cars competing for the official FIA European Championship and CIR (Italian Rally Championship) trophies, for classic cars contending the Italian and European titles and the cars participating in the Coppa dei Fiori regularity tests.
The first edition of the International Rally of Sanremo was held in 1928 and was won by Ernest Urdareanu in a Fiat 520. The event was officially called the Rally dei Fiori (the Rally of the Flowers, hinting at the town’s floricultural tradition) from 1961 to 1969 and reverted to the original name, albeit with some minor changes, over time. The race is held on the streets of Sanremo and its surroundings. One of the great Italian champions was Miki Biasion, who won three times (in 1987, 1988 and 1989) in a Lancia Delta.
San Marino Historic Rally
The San Marino Historic Rally, now in its sixth edition, is the prime event for classic cars. Although it is held in the Republic of San Marino, the weekend races are valid for the Italian Historic Rally Dirt Championship and the Italian Cross Country Championship rankings. The San Marino Historic Rally attracts top-level crews and iconic cars, such as the Lancia Delta Integrale 16 V driven by the Lucky-Pons crew.
The event is organised by the San Marino Automobile Federation and the most important teams entered in the various Italian championships will battle it out. The San Marino rally is the third round of the six events of the Italian Historic Rally Dirt Championship. It is always a crucial stage to decide the fate of one of the fiercest competitions on the classic car racing scene
Elba Historic Rally
One of the longest living historic Italian rallies is the Elba Historic Rally, an event that is always very popular and capable of attracting large crowds and international crews. It is held on the characteristic roads of the Island of Elba in a splendid setting. The racing weekend is packed with events and great challenges between the cars that are symbols of the history of rallying in Italy and Europe.
The competition is organised by ACI Livorno Sport with the support of all the municipalities of Elba and is now in its 23rd edition. The 2020 Elba Historic Rally was won by Tagliaferri and Salvini who with their Porsche 911 RS kept everyone else in the dust. A record-breaking total of 131 crews signed up.
Valsugana Historic Rally
Another major event for classic rally car enthusiasts is the Valsugana Historic Rally and Classic event although the 2021 edition was cancelled due to the Covid-19 health emergency. The tenth edition of the event may be on hold, waiting for the new official dates after being postponed by the organisers, but it is still one of the most eagerly anticipated appointments of the season.
The Valsugana Historic Rally includes several races valid for the official competitions of the ACI Sport Championships and is one of the most fiercely fought stages by national and European crews. The first edition was held in 2009. The classic cars started from Palazzo dello Sport in Borgo Valsugana and the first grouping was won by Team Bassano in an Alfa Romeo GT Junior.
Arezzo Historic Rally
The Arezzo Crete Senesi Valtiberina Historic Rally stands out among the historic rallies in Tuscany for its prestige. It is valid for the Italian Historic Rally Dirt Championship, with the Italian Cross Country Rally Championship and the European Rally Tour titles. The competition is held in Arezzo and Siena for over 380 kilometres in total across the Arezzo countryside area and the Crete Senesi hills.
The Regolarity Sport category designed especially for drivers who want to enjoy the beauty of the landscape without pushing their car to the limit was introduced again in 2020 after many years of absence. Many big names have taken part in recent editions, like the many-times champion Paolo Andreucci. It all started in 2007 when Vartiberinamotorsport organised the first real dirt race in Italy.
Biella Historic Rally
The Rally Lana Storico is beyond doubt one of the most competitive rounds of the Italian Historic Rally, Average Regularity and Sport Regularity Championship. The event now in its tenth edition is held, as ever, in Biella. This is the landmark attraction for historic rally fans in Piedmont with 185 crews signing up, taking all the title categories into account.
The programme of the Biella event includes eight timed races, with the memorable Ronco crossings and a grand total of 94.94 kilometres of white-knuckle special tests not to mention the other challenges of this motorsports extravaganza. In addition to the classic car races in the four groupings, there is the clash of the crews competing for the Trofeo A112 Abarth that offers excitement in spades.
Costa Smeralda Historic Rally
The Costa Smeralda Historic Rally is one of the most fascinating events for classic racing cars. This is a round valid for the Italian Historic Rally, Average Regularity and Sport Regularity Championship. It is held on the stunning Costa Smeralda, on the roads around Porto Cervo and through the Gallura hills touching charming locations full of international appeal.
The International Costa Smeralda Historic Rally includes a week of events and two days of racing making it a one-of-kind event for vintage car enthusiasts. In the roll of honour of the competition, now in its fourth edition, last year’s trophy was won by Lucky Battistolli and Fabrizia Pons, who beat the other 77 crews in a Lancia Delta Integrale.
Targa Florio Historic Rally
The Targa Florio Historic Rally is a two-day delight for vintage car fans and the key stage of the Italian Classic Car Rally Championship. All races start from Viale Targa Florio in the old Port of Termini Imerese and the finish line is at Belvedere Principe di Piemonte. The total distance is 383.66 kilometres.
The iconic Sicilian rally has seen many champions and iconic cars of dirt motorsports over the years. The 2021 edition was won by the Da Zanche and De Luis crew in a Porsche 911 Carrera SC RS. The first edition was held in 1988 when Pietro Silva and Tiziana Borghi won the competition in a Jaguar E. Of the 109 other participants, only 73 made it across the finish line.
The 2021 calendar of historic rallies in Italy
2021 Italian Classic Car Rally Championship
- 36th Sanremo Historic Rally, 8-10 April 2021
- Targa Florio Historic Rally, 7-8 May 2021
- 16th Campagnolo Historic Rally, 28-29 May 2021
- 10th Lana Storico Rally, 19 June 2021
- 11th Vallate Aretine Historic Rally, 22-23 July 2021
- 25th Eastern Alps Historic Rally, 21-22 August 2021
- 33rd Elba Historic Rally, 23-26 September 2021
- 4th Costa Smeralda Historic Rally, 30-31 October 2021
Italian Historic Rally Dirt Championship
- 3rd Val d’Orcia Historic Rally, 28 March 2021
- 3rd Mid-Adriatic Historic Rally, 24-25 April 2021
- 6th San Marino Historic Rally, 25-26 June 2021
- 4th Arezzo Crete Senesi Valtiberina Historic Rally, 6-8 August 2021
- Rally Historicu del Vermentino, 11-12 September 2021
- 1st Brunello Historic Rally, 12-12 December 2021
How to take part in a historic rally
After that, there are the periods that take the configuration of the car, in addition to the year of manufacture, into account. In general, classic rally cars range from period E vehicles (manufactured from 1947 to 1961) to period I vehicles (manufactured from 1977 to 1981). Another subdivision applied to classic rally cars is that of classes according to cylinder displacement.
The last categories are those of the type and trim level (T Standard Tourer, TC Racing Tourer, GT Standard Production Grand Tourer, GTS Special Grand Tourer). The detailed technical regulations are posted on the ACI website and the official portals of the various stages. They contain the requirements for participating in the championships and the various competitions, concerning several aspects, such as special tyres approved for use in historic rallies, safety systems and electronic devices.
For instance, the chassis must be original in terms of design and dimensions. The engine and the front and rear suspensions must comply with the technical regulations of the reference period and must be of the same make, type and model as that indicated by the manufacturer. Even the wheels must not differ from the original model or period specifications and must reflect the set-up used during the sporting life of the car.