An electrifying Sparco Italian Rally Championship 2024 is all set to debut at Ciocco

A new extraordinary season from the start, is about to begin with the classic opening of the Rally Il Ciocco and Valle del Serchio. On March 15th and 16th, between Lucca and Castelnuovo Garfagnana, the race for the Overall, Promotion, Two-Wheel Drive, and R1 titles will begin, along with the challenge for the 7th Zone Rally Cup, featuring 11 special stages covering 105 km of competitive sections. Drawing attention is a remarkable list of 109 registered crews. Also participating is the 17th Suzuki Rally Cup.


Barga (LU), Thursday, March 14th, 2024 - The Sparco Italian Rally Championship is about to return to action with its 63rd edition, which promises to be one of the most interesting of the modern era. The ACI Sport's premier series will reclaim the spotlight next weekend on Friday, March 15th, and Saturday, March 16th, with the first of the seven seasonal rounds at the 47th Rally Il Ciocco e Valle del Serchio. This classic event, organized by Organization Sport Events, has been chosen again this year as the championship opener and will be valid for the Overall title, the Italian Rally Promotion Championship, the junior CIAR 2WD category and the Italian R1 Championship. Il Ciocco will also host the first round of the Rally Cup 7th Zone, which will award points with a coefficient of 2 and will be held, unlike in the recent past, in a single race together with the major series. These are many competitions in a single rally that have gained the favour of 109 registered teams, called to a challenge on 11 special stages for 105.87 competitive kilometres, immersed in 318.80 kilometres of the overall route.


THE PROGRAM | The route of the Rally Il Ciocco will respect the traditional features of the landscapes of Upper Tuscany of Garfagnana and Mediavalle, along asphalt roads crossing most of the province of Lucca, with Lucca, Castelnuovo Garfagnana, Barga, and Il Ciocco as the main hubs of the event. The attention of enthusiasts will be captured from the early hours of Friday, when on the classic 2.02 km of the SS "Il Ciocco" free practices for the Rally2 cars of the highest category will take place. Immediately after, on the same track from 10:00 am, the teams will face the "Qualifying trial" for the first time, which is a change in the 2024 layout. It is a new qualifying format for the Sparco CIAR that will allow the 10 teams registering the best time to choose the starting order for the second, more intense day of racing. The selection will take place from 2:15 pm during the starting ceremony, once again in the splendid location of the Antico Caffè delle Mura in Lucca with the first start at 3:00 pm. The first three special stages will follow: "Pegnana" (7.41 km - at 4:18 pm), the Power Stage "Il Ciocco" (2.02 km - at 4:59 pm), broadcast live on RAI Sport (ch. 57 FreeView) and on ACI Sport TV, which will award 2, 1.5, and 1 points to the top three this year; then the SS "Monteceneri" (2.54 km - at 5:18 pm).

The second part of the rally will then unfold over the other 8 special stages, divided into three sections. The longest, "Careggine" (19.60 km - SS4 at 9:14 am and SS11 at 4:58 pm), will open and close the day, followed in the first and second loop by "Renaio" (14.32 km - SS5 at 10:18 am and SS8 at 1:57 pm) and the rerun of "Il Ciocco" (SS6 at 10:57 am and SS9 at 2:36 pm). The final loop will consist of just two stages, "Puglianella" (11.01 km - at 4:34 pm) and again "Careggine". The final arrival is scheduled for 5:30 pm in the centre of Castelnuovo Garfagnana. In addition to the confirmed presence of RAI Sport for the entire championship, ACI Sport TV has planned, with the organization's support, a schedule full of live links, like the special stages and the rally's key moments for this season's debut. Fans and enthusiasts can follow the action from qualifying to the closing ceremony, always through the channels and platforms of the Federation (ch. 228 Sky, ch. 52 tivùsat, on, and Facebook @ACISportTV and @CIRally). The weekend of live broadcasts will be opened on Thursday, March 14, from 5:30 pm, with the Presentation Conference of the Sponsorship between Sparco and ACI Sport.


109 EXCEPTIONAL TEAMS | Scrolling through the entry list for the 2024 Sparco CIAR and those participating at Ciocco, many fans and insiders’ eyes will light up. Among the 109 competitors of the first seasonal round, the names of the best Italian interpreters of the speciality stand out, from the most experienced to promising young drivers or champions seeking confirmation. Winners of titles and protagonists from the last season are joined by several drivers who have made the Italian Championship great in the recent past, for a rare concentration of tricoloured talent. The reigning Champions, Andrea Crugnola and Pietro Elia Ometto, winners of three of the last four editions of Ciocco, could not be missing. The EASI team can utilize the same technical-sportive package that accompanied them to success, namely the Citroen C3 Rally2 prepared by FPF Sport, equipped with Pirelli tyres to chase the fourth title (after the three championships won in four years: '20, '22, and '23). A major new feature that has captured the public's imagination since the first announcement is Toyota's debut in the Sparco CIAR with the new GR Yaris Rally2. After the three-year single-brand trophy - which will start from the Rally Regione Piemonte - the Japanese brand is ready to chase the Overall title with the car, equipped with Pirelli, put on the road by Toyota Gazoo Racing Italy; for this it has chosen an exceptional team formed by the Treviso driver Giandomenico Basso at the wheel and Lorenzo Granai on the notes, returning to Ciocco after missing the last edition. The reigning Promotion Champions Bostjan Avbelj and Damijan Andrejka, who earned number 3 on the sides of their Skoda Fabia RS Rally2 of the Slovenian team, seventh in Garfagnana last year, will have the new version of the Czech car from MS Munaretto, representing La Superba. Among the drivers belonging to the 1st priority list, confirmed at the start of Sparco CIAR are also the Varese driver Damiano De Tommaso and Sofia D’Ambrosio, fielded by Pinatally Motorsport, who will try to redeem the last complicated season through the news of the Citroen C3 Rally2 at their disposal. The Emilian Ivan Ferrarotti, an asphalt specialist and among the veterans at Ciocco - at his 14th start in his career - returns to the start with particular attention to the Promotion race, on a Skoda of BMP together with Massimo Bizzocchi, with the colours of Movisport. Luca Bottarelli did not hesitate to confirm his name at the start of Ciocco, an extraordinary protagonist of third place at the opening of last year and in the race until the end for the CIRP title. He will try again, always supported by New Turbomark, paired with Manuel Fenoli, on another Skoda of MS Munaretto. Among the aspiring leaders of the Promotion, Giacomo Scattolon will be present again, the author of a drastic change given this season. The Pavia driver has moved to the reigning Champion team FPF Sport and will be able to exploit the Citroen C3, with which he has already made its debut at Rally dei Laghi together with Gabriele Zanni, as a duo of the Movisport team. If Sparco CIAR calls, Antonio Rusce always responds. The Reggio driver is among the long-term participants of the tricoloured championship and will restart the new year from the solid foundations of last year, on the Skoda prepared by Erreffe Rally Team with Sauro Farnocchia on the notes. Despite the experience and category successes, the Ligurian Francesco Aragno made his debut in the Italian championship last year but seems determined to restart with conviction to try to improve performance paired with Giancarla Guzzi on another of the numerous Bohemian Rally2 cars of Munaretto.

BIG SURPRISE | Highly anticipated and acclaimed by the home crowd, this Ciocco will also mark the return to the top series of the multi-champion from Garfagnana, Paolo Andreucci, the most successful in the history of CIAR with 11 titles, holding the record for this event in terms of wins (8), starts (29 with this one) and podiums (12). After three consecutive championships in CIR Gravel Trophy, the MRF Tyres driver is now preparing for a new challenge on the national front, navigated by Rudy Briani but this time in a Citroen C3 with the RO Racing team. He wasn’t the only surprise in the CIAR lineup, which was enriched with returning big names and fresh faces. Among the returning drivers is the outgoing Asphalt Champion from Cesena, Simone Campedelli with Tania Canton, who has two consecutive wins in the series now called “Italian Rally Trophy” A Skoda Fabia RS from StepFive Motorsport will be available to compete again for the top spot. A last-minute entry was also made by Andrea Mabellini, another arrow in MRF Tyres' quiver aiming for the top title after successes in Italian asphalt and dirt. After a great run in the FIA European Rally Championship, which followed the 2WD 2022 title win, the driver from Brescia of team Northon Racing, always co-driven by Virginia Lenzi, will be one of the most-rated competitors for the high ranking on a Skoda. Among the young talents launched at an international level, the ACI Team Italia crew formed by Roberto Daprà and Luca Guglielmetti will also be part of the Sparco CIAR group, this year called to represent Italy in the World Championship where they have already debuted at the Rally Monte-Carlo. To the world championship program, the Trentino boy has added that in the Italian championship always on the Skoda of DP Autosport with the Meteco Corse team, after winning the European RC4 class title and narrowly missing the CIAR Junior championship the year before.


NEW ENTRIES AND RETURNS | Some new, others already seen and appreciated, the drivers registered in this year’s Sparco CIAR will be numerous, with 36 alone between the four and two-wheel drive categories, plus 24 candidates for the Italian R1 at Ciocco. Heading the group, Marco Signor returns to racing after winning an Italian Cup and competing in Asphalt. The driver from Treviso will have Daniele Michi on his right in the Skoda with the colours of Sama Racing, aiming for the top, especially in the Promotion category. Inevitably in the Sparco CIAR and at Ciocco, the local Rudy Michelini, winner in December of the Ciocchetto, is ready to start with the colours of Movisport, behind the wheel of the Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo of the MM Motorsport team alongside Nicola Angilletta. A sensational return then for Andrea Nucita, among the most prominent profiles on the national circuit, now back after a European stint. The driver from Santa Teresa Riva will again have Rudy Pollet on the notes, still on the Hyundai i20 tagged Hyundai Rally Team Italia and prepared by Friulmotor, fitted with Michelin tyres. A new entry is also a driver from Belluno, Nicola Sartor, who stands as a possible revelation after impressing in last year’s appearance in Sanremo, where he finished third on the podium. He will be at the start for the first time in full force in the Sparco CIAR on a Skoda of Delta Rally, navigated by Lorenzo Mattucci. Another known driver, Alessandro Re, reappears to the tricolor after four years together with Marco Menchini on a Volkswagen Polo Rally2. Where there is a great race, there is also “Pedro” who this year has chosen to return to enjoy the Sparco CIAR asphalt and to compete with the best on the Skoda of BMP, again paired with Emanuele Baldaccini. It’s a new arrival for Fabrizio Guerra, a driver from Sondrio who comes to this new experience after an excellent season in CRZ in Piedmont, in addition to the seventh place obtained in the Italian Cup Final, and will try to make the leap to the Overall Championship on a Skoda RS of DP Autosport. Confirmations then for Liberato Sulpizio from Frosinone, who has taken a liking to run in the Italian Championship and will live his third consecutive season paired with Alessio Angeli, the second on the Hyundai i20 of Friulmotor. From the GR Yaris Rally Cup to the Overall Championship in a year, Mattia Scandola is ready to follow in the footsteps of his uncle Umberto (2013 Champion) and to tread Italy’s most coveted trial in the top category. The young man from Verona will pair with Nicolò Gonella on the Skoda Evo of BMP. Confirmed at the start is the driver from Rome, Fabio Angelucci, for the first time accompanied by Gianfrancesco Rappa on a Citroen C3.


MORE AND MORE WOMEN | The fight in the Women's category also deserves attention, promising to be more intense than ever. At least three contenders behind the wheel of Rally2 cars can aim for the ACI Sport Cup. The Milano-born Rachele Somaschini relaunches from last year’s win with the guarantee of the Citroen C3 and the novelty of Fabio Salis on the notes. Arianna Doriguzzi, a girl from Friuli who nearly won the cup – it slipped away because she had equal points as Somaschini – will make her debut on a Skoda Fabia Rally2 in the Italian Championship, the first with Elena Sica by her side. Another new proposal among the Rally2 comes with Sara Carra, a young woman from Salento grown in the federal project of ACI Team Italia and, after Junior, is preparing for her Overall championship debut on a Skoda of Erreffe Rally Team together with Sara Torielli.

TWO-WHEEL DRIVE | The reigning “front-wheel drive” champion and last season's dominator Gianandrea Pisani will be in the challenge also for 2024, ready to seek the historic repeat. With notes from Massimo Moriconi, in the home race, the driver from Lucca will be the first of the teams in the fight aboard a Peugeot 208 GT Line, prepared by Lion Team with the colours of BB Competition. Moreno Cambiaghi, third in CIAR 2WD last year, will also be on a French car but of the ABS Sport team. Navigated by Giulia Paganoni, he will surely aim to go beyond the fourth place obtained at Ciocco last season. Likewise, Gabriel di Pietro will be at the wheel of a Renault Clio RS, prepared by DP Autosport, with the colours of EASI Srl and shared with Andrea Dresti. He will try to start off on the right foot at the end of the season, when he took home two category victories. With the colours of the La Superba team, the Ligurian Emanuele Fiore and Andrea Casalini will be in the challenge on Peugeot, while Christopher Lucchesi, another local at Ciocco, started strong in the first part of 2023, with many podiums and second places, but then was unable to achieve the maximum result; he will be paired with Cosimo Ancillotti. With a rarely seen car in the CIAR 2WD lists, an Opel Corsa GS branded Meteco Corse, Emanuele Rosso from Asti navigated by Edoardo Brovelli, a young driver who came out with a second place from the CIAR Junior two years ago, will try to surprise everyone. A new challenge among the 2WD also for Stefano Strabello from Verona, at the wheel of the Peugeot 208 Rally4 managed by Baldon Rally, fitted with Michelin tyres, together with Fabio Grimaldi in the colours of the Destra 4 team. It will be the debut in the championship for Denis Vigliaturo, another Veronese who has shown himself in his CRZ and now is preparing for the big leap with his navigator and friend Ermanno Corradini, as a couple of the Pintarally Motorsport on board the Peugeot 208 Rally 4 of the GF Racing team. Very interesting also is the new arrival of Federico Gangi from Savona, who contested two years ago the Final of the Italian Cup and today is at the debut in Sparco CIAR on the French two-wheel drive of GIMA Autosport, with Andrea Ferrari on the right for the colours of La Superba. Another new entry, an important challenge for the thirty-five-year-old from Reggio Emilia, Alex Ferrari who in his fourth season will make his debut in the Sparco CIAR with Matteo Nobili on the 208 of FPF Sport.

SUZUKI RALLY CUP | The 17th edition of the single-make dedicated to Suzuki in rally mode opens with a boom of entries to the trophy: 18, of which 14 are already at the start on the Tuscan asphalt. Reliable and resilient cars, light and agile, at a contained cost and very fun. All these factors together with the success, the excellent prize money, and the high level of teams that have tread the stages of the Suzuki Rally Cup in recent years have raised the bar even further. The 2024 trophy promoted by the Japanese house expects battles and confrontations from the very first special stages because the field of teams is one of the most prestigious in recent years: trophy senators, young upstarts, and crystalline talents. From the aficionado Roberto Pellè, passing through the under 25 winners Sebastian Dallapiccola, from the one who raised the ACI Sport under 25 Cup of the CI R1 Alessandro Forneris, to two historical winners of the Suzuki Rally Cup like Corrado Peloso and Simone Rivia. Whether on Sport Hybrid or Racing Stard, the teams from the rising sun are ready for a totally unwritten season.


- The Sparco Italian Rally Championship will be structured over 7 rallies, with 6 useful results in addition to the points from the Power Stage. The total prize money is worth 100,000 euros.

- For the 2WD Italian Rally Championship, all the races of CIAR Sparco will be on the schedule. Drivers may choose to participate in only 6 races and will have 5 useful results. If a driver were to participate in additional races, they would be considered transparent for scoring. Prize money for the winner: 20,000 euros.

- The Italian Rally Promotion Championship will be structured over a maximum of 7 (seven) races within the Sparco CIAR, but drivers may choose to participate in only 6 races and will have 5 useful results. To the 5 useful results will be added the results of the Power Stages of the 6 races. The total prize money of 120,000 euros will be distributed to the top five teams.

- The CIAR Junior will start in April, with 6 rounds scheduled between asphalt and dirt: Rally Regione Piemonte; Rally Adriatico (Dirt); San Marino Rally (Dirt); Rally Roma Capitale (coeff. 1.5); Rally 1000 Miglia; Rallye Sanremo (coeff. 1.5). Prize money: 75,000 euros designated for a European program with ACI Team Italia in the 2025 season for the winner.

- For 2024, the points of the Power Stage have been adjusted, which will award: 2 - 1.5 - 1 additional points to the best three of the short section.

2024 SPARCO ITALIAN RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP CALENDAR: March 15-16 | Rally il Ciocco e Valle del Serchio; April 12-13 | Rally Regione Piemonte; May 10-11 | Rally Targa Florio (coeff. 1.5); May 26-29 | Rally Due Valli; July 26-28 | Rally di Roma Capitale (coeff. 1.5); September 13-14 | Rally 1000 Miglia; October 18-19 | Rally Sanremo (coeff. 1.5)


- Non-regulatory announcement –