WRC 2 winner Lorenzo Bertelli was seconds away from retiring from Rally Italia Sardegna when a slice of luck transformed his fortunes and sent him on the road to victory.
A problem with co-driver Mitia Dotta’s seat belts in the opening pass of the marathon Monte Lerno stage on Saturday morning meant the Italians had decided to park their Ford Fiesta RRC for safety reasons.
But just as they were about to stop, the stage was neutralised after then leader Yazeed Al Rajhi crashed, and they drove slowly to the finish of the 59km test as yellow warning flags were displayed.
“My co-driver began to feel his seat belts coming loose and he started to fix them,” said 26-year-old Bertelli. “He told me to slow down but then showed me the buckle of the belt in his hand. We realised it wasn’t possible to go on because it wasn’t safe so we agreed we had to retire.
“I saw a hairpin with another road leading off it where we could stop but as we were pulling off, I saw the yellow flags being shown. My co-driver said ‘yes!’ so we kept going and made some repairs before making sure they were fixed at service. Thank God for that yellow flag,” he said.
After a troubled opening leg, Bertelli moved into the WRC 2 lead on Saturday afternoon. When Nasser Al-Attiyah crashed he cruised home, admitting his maiden win at his home rally was special.
“I’m very excited about winning in my home country and in front of all these people. I had my first podium here last year here and now my first victory is in Italy. It feels right.”
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