22-year-old Italian Alberto Battistolli, who also celebrates his 23rd birthday on Sunday at the final day of the rally, will be making his ERC1 Junior debut at the Rally di Roma Capitale.
Battistolli, son of legendary FIA European Historic Rally Championship driver Luigi ‘Lucky’ Battistolli will make his first appearence in the class driving for the Italian Federation’s ACI Team Italia squad.
“I can’t wait to get back in the car, I will use my head to put to good use the many lessons received from great professionals in the tests that I was able to carry out recently, and repay the investment, especially financial, which first of all my father, the federation, GLS Lucente Autotrasporti and Scuderia Palladio are doing to allow me to race.” Battistolli said ahead of this weekend’s event.
Battistolli also followed in his father’s footstep by contesting some historic rally events in a Fiat 131 Abarth before he started to drive modern rally machinery.
“My first year with a modern car was in 2018 and I have only done six races with my Škoda and only five on Tarmac,” Battistolli said on his lack of R5/Rally 2 experience.
“My father was an official driver for Opel in Italy and for Ferrari. He was rallying in the 1970s and 1980s and has won the Mitropa Cup. He has the background I fell in love with. My total inspiration is because of him. He suggested to me to start with historic cars to have a background in different cars. I haven’t achieved so much with historic cars but I did come close to winning an Italian championship and a European one.”
Battistoli had originally planned to have Fabrizia Pons as his co-driver in Rome having been the co-driver for his father for many years but after a large testing crash, Pons will sit out the opening round of the season.
“The accident we had in the first tests after the long stop is now left behind, even if Fabrizia suffered a little more from a physical point of view. I hope that she will recover as soon as possible and to be able to have her again by my side to show her that I have improved.” Battistolli explained.
Talking about replacement co-driver, Simone Scattolin, Battistolli added:“It’s a great pleasure to have him on board, he has a great background and was an obvious choice [to replace Fabrizia] because he has a great experience.”
Battistolli and Scattolin entered the Rally Città di Lucca in Italy last weekend in preparation for the ERC season opener and he went on to discuss how the rally went: “I was careful to gain experience, the goal of bringing the car home without a scratch has been met. This was a very nice rally, with extremely difficult and technical stages, I hope to return with more experience.”
Battistolli will be driving a Škoda Fabia Rally2 this weekend and finally concluded by admitting that he is simply going to see what happens when it comes to the tarmac event in Rome: “For this season I am thinking about making experience in order to be competitive.”
“It’s one of my first times on Tarmac with this car and my first time on Rally di Roma Capitale so everything will be a surprise for me. I won’t try to compete for results but to have as much experience as I can get. I have chosen to register in ERC1 Junior because even if I will not achieve anything this year it will be a great opportunity for the future.”
Rally di Roma Capitale takes place this weekend, with daily updates from the opening round of the 2020 FIA European Rally Championship here on The Checkered Flag.