Wednesday, April 17, 2024

“Human mistake” led to Amerigo Ventura’s Rally Greece DQ

Amerigo Ventura‘s 2023 FIA European Cup for Cross-Country Bajas has been a series of heartbreaks. After beginning the year by crashing while leading the Baja TT Dehesa Extremadura in April, things seemed to look up for him during last week’s Rally Greece Off-Road when he survived the abysmal weather conditions to win both the T4 category and the FIA overall.

Unfortunately for him, the slightest measurement error in rebuilding his Yamaha YXZ1000R after the season-opening accident was his demise as he was disqualified for failing post-race scrutineering. According to the technical delegate who inspected the vehicle, the protective casing that separated the right-side fuel tank from the car’s frame was too narrow, with multiple measurements finding it to be between 34 mm and 38.7 mm wide while the FIA regulation states it must be at least 40 mm in width. The other hand, the tank on the left met standard at approximately 50 mm.

His Quaddy Racing team owner Angelo Montico explained the crew had inadvertently used three-millimetre space rubbers instead of the intended six, leading to the error. Unsurprisingly, the FIA deemed such a mistake fell on the team’s shoulders and disqualified him from the results.

Krzysztof Hołowczyc inherited the win as a result, while Ventura remains without any points in the European Cup standings.

Prior to the penalty, he had recorded a total time of 8:51:09, nearly twenty-five minutes ahead of Hołowczyc and 48:18 on T4 runner-up Miguel Valero Chuliá. Had the victory stuck, it would have made for a nice birthday present for his co-driver Mirko Brun.

“One millimetre. It was fundamental. This damn millimetre separates us from a dream that it was becoming true,” said Ventura. “We have just come back from Greece. […] The trip was long and really hard: four days of water, special stages up and down the mountain, bottleneck in the woods, fog, cold, we found everything. And this millimetre separates us from a dream. The dream of winning the overall classification and the T4 category. It was becoming true.

“Mirko and I started immediately to fight, right from the Prologue. We found a perfect connection with our Yamaha on the wet. It has proved to be very competitive, also thanks to the manual shift. For the first time in history, we finished the race winning the overall classification with a T4 category vehicle, first time for Yamaha YXZ, first time for a side by side, first time also for an Italian driver, but clearly it was too good to be true.

“Unfortunately, a human mistake penalised us: a thickness was mistakenly installed with a lower size, in other words, the millimetre I was telling you about earlier. It divides the frame from the tank. The regulatory distance is 40 mm. We were below this measure and, there was no way, we were disqualified. It’s hard to say it, it’s a heavy penalty, especially for a component that doesn’t change the performances or the characteristics of the vehicle. This mistake excluded us from the general charts, taking us away the first place of the T4 category and the first place of the overall classification. Our vehicles have always passed all the checks. Unfortunately, this time wasn’t like that.

“With the team, we are immediately trying to be as competitive as possible and to not repeat these mistakes. We proved that the vehicle is over the top. The reliability was there, also in these extreme conditions. Mirko and I have ridden and competed with top-level riders. It was a pleasure and an honour to challenge and be with these greatest pilots with every type of vehicles, all categories from T3 to T1 and T1+. We were looking for a revenge from Spain and we had it almost until the end.

“Unfortunately, this disqualification is a serious blow for us because it takes us away from the top step of the podium. The next competition is the Italian Baja; for us, it’s a competition of the Italian Championship, a home race. We will absolutely be trying to release ourselves and confirm our performance in this race.”

Scheduled for 6–9 July, the Italian Baja is not on the European Cup calendar but is part of his domestic Italian championship as well as the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas. Ventura finished fifth overall and runner-up in T4 at the 2022 race.