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Who was there on the morning of October 15, 1986, among the crowd of fans in Badia a Passignano or Montefioralle?
Exactly 30 years ago, between October 13 and 17,1986, the last Rally of Sanremo took place featuring the B group, vehicles with 500 horsepower, which were abolished that year for excessive power. The Chianti region was protagonist of this world sports event.
“That morning,” those who were in Badia a Passignano remember, “we began to hear the sound of motors from the distance, as they were covered by TV and organization helicopters. Then we noticed a curtain of dust rise from the forest, caused by skids and rough steering. Then, much afterwards, we could see the racing vehicles as they climbed towards Badia”.
People camped out in the the middle of the fields in order to have a good place to see the race. The line of spectator cars reached Sambuca. Flags of foreign fans related their nation of origin. There was the same crowd of spectators at the other access roads, all over Montefioralle and at the “Testa Lepre” trial.
On that day, the Siena-Sanremo segment of the rally took place: the special gravel routes were Catignano, Vagliagli, Volpaia. Following, at 8:53 AM, began the “speciale 29 Greve” trial which started in Panzano, a ring of about 15 km towards Montefioralle-Rignana-Badia a Passignano-Sillano.
Here is where the protagonists of the world championship left Tuscany and returned to Liguria, for the final phase of the race, on asphalt.
This was the last time that one could admire the “monsters”, Lancia Delta S4, Peugeot 205 T16 and the Austin Metro6R4 (the Audi Quattro didn’t participate that year) on the gravel roads of tuscany.
The special trial in Greve is historic, because it marked the final salute of the B groups in Tuscany: these racing vehicles weren’t seen again in Italy. They were prohibited after the death a few months earlier of the Lancia Martini pilots, Henri Toivonven e Sergio Cresto, at the Tour de Corse.
The pilots of the Sanremo 1986 were Markku Alen, Massimo Biasion, Juha Kankkunen, Timo Salonen, Malcolm Wilson, Bruno Saby, Dario Cerrato, Andrea Zanussi. But in 1985, a Badia a Passignano, Chianti residents, (crowded at the trial together with Germans, French, Finnish, Swedish, English, Spanish, and Italians from every region) had admired pilots like Walter Rohrl, who had won the Montecarlo race 4 times with 4 different cars, and Toivonen. In 1989, the rally of Sanremo again chose the special trial in Greve (used three times for the world championship) but the race was shortened at the last moment due to lack of permits.
More “human” vehicles ran the race, and the Lancia won. The crowd of world spectators was still there; it had returned.