After their clean sweep in the Tour de Corse, a trio of Abarth 124 Rally machines are back in competition in the FIA R-GT Cup during the third event of the season, the Rally di Roma Capitale, which starts today and finishes on Sunday.

After their clean sweep in the Tour de Corse, a trio of Abarth 124 Rally machines are back in competition in the FIA R-GT Cup during the third event of the season, the Rally di Roma Capitale, which starts today (Friday 20 July) and finishes on Sunday (22 July).

It’s rally in which Abarth achieved a one-two-three during the 2017 edition, with three of the ‘spider’ cars taking the top three places in their category.

This weekend though the Abarth cars are the only entries in the R-GT Cup so a category victory at the least will be a formality so long as one of the three survives to the finishline, rather the battle for supremacy will be between the 'Scorpion' crews and to see once again just how far the 124 Rally can make it up the overall classifciation with an 83-strong entry list for today's start.

Run only for the first time in 2013, the Rally di Roma Capitale made its European Rally Championship (ERC) debut in 2017 as Italy returned to the calendar for the first time since 2013 when Rallye Sanremo was counted towards this championship.

It proved a big hit with European crews and teams on its debut ERC year with a driving parade through the centre of Rome, a spectacular spectator stage around the Palazzio della Civiltą del Lavoro in the EUR district, followed by two days of action-packed rallying on stages to the east and south-east of the capital. Last year the rally continued to grow in stature and prestige.

The Milano Racing team will be lining up the French pair of Raphael Astier and Frédéric Vauclare, who head the FIA R-GT Cup table thanks to their victory in the Tour de Corse. The French crew also scored a victory in this year's Rallye des Vosges, which counts towards the French Rally Championship.

"The Rallye des Vosges was great practice for this event, where I'm competing for the first time,” says Astier. “Of course, it won't be easy to hold off Andrea Nucita, who was very quick in Corsica and has the advantage of home ground here."

Bernini Rally is fielding two Italian crews, Andrea Nucita with Marco Vozzo alongside, as well as the young Andrea Modanesi with Roberto Mometti in the navigator’s seat.

So far, Nucita has been one of the most effective drivers behind the wheel of the Abarth spider, achieving excellent results even at the overall level and he currently stands in second place in the FIA R-GT Cup points classification.

"I took part in this race last year and the course is very demanding, with continuous changes in the level of road surface grip,” said Nucita, who is being supported in this international championship by ACI Sport, which has great faith in this young Sicilian driver's talent.

“This favours the Abarth 124 Rally, which allows rapid adjustments to the engine's power output and traction control during the special test stages,” he added.

Modanesi has also already competed in the Rally di Roma, finishing an excellent third in the GT category last year. He achieved fourth place in Corsica and says: "For me, this is a season in which I'm trying to build up experience, and thanks to the Abarth 124 Rally's excellent reliability I've managed to complete tough, difficult races such as the Rally San Marino, which had a dirt road course."

The Rally di Roma Capitale sets off from the Eternal City at 1645(CET) today, Friday 20 July, and this evening will see a spectacular special stage in the EUR quarter, at the Colosseo Quadrato building, starting at 1830. It was in this event, back in 2016, that the Abarth 124 Rally made its first official appearance, receiving an enthusiastic response from the spectators.

For the next two days, the rally's logistics base moves to Fiuggi. On Saturday (21 July) the first stage starts at 0800 and the day ends at 2100, after the crews complete seven special stages. Sunday sees the second leg of the race, with the start scheduled for 0900 and the finish in Ostia, coming with the "Super Special" stage along the seafront, at 1930. The route is a total of 967 km, with 15 timed special stages that add up to 205 km (99.82 kilometres Leg 1 and 106.15 kilometres Leg 2.

Meanwhile, in Germany this weekend the young drivers of the ADAC F4 Championship Powered by Abarth will experience the thrill of racing at the German Formula 1 Grand Prix meeting.

On the same weekend and on the same circuit, they will be able to show off their skills in front of a large, knowledgeable crowds, and attract the interest of the team managers at the highest level.

After the first four events in the series, which features Tatuus single-seater cars powered by the 160 HP Abarth T-Jet engine, German Lirim Zendeli leads the overall standings with 199 points, ahead of New Zealander Liam Lawson (175 points) and Brazilian Enzo Fittipaldi (133 points), grandson of two-times Formula 1 world champion, Emerson.

On this occasion there are two races scheduled (instead of the three at the other meetings).

Photos: Abarth 124 Rally (season 2018)

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