After continually improving during the race, Christian Merli and his co-driver Anna Tomasi, 2019 Italian WRC champion, were forced to retire at the Alpe Grande, the final special stage of the 38th Rally Trofeo ACI Como, their sealed-surfaces debut with the Skoda Fabia R5. The first withdrawal in Merli’s long season. Before, he had moved up from 22nd position at the start to 8th overall.
“In a left-hand corner of the final special stage, in the woods, the car left the road and the rear bumper came off, damaging the exhaust. The engine went into self-protection mode, forcing us to retire. It’s a shame, because we had moved up to 8th position overall, despite the fact that it was our first time with this R5 in a sealed-surface race. At Corrido, the penultimate special stage, we had finished 7th overall. That was a big achievement, since we were competing against teams who knew the special stages inside out and in particular knew their cars very well, having raced them all year. In our class there were no fewer than 31 teams. A difficult race with leaves and dirt on the track. We enjoyed ourselves, but a bitter taste remains because we were unable to finish the race, at just a few kilometres to the end of the special stage. The first time we’ve had to withdraw this season.”
The 38th Rally Trofeo ACI Como
The national final of the Rally Cup Italia, taking place entirely on sealed surfaces, was 361 km long, of which 74 km made up the eight special stages. It boasted a grid of 198 teams.