Rossi overcomes penalty to win Monza Rally

Jamie Klein
This article first appeared on autosport.com

MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi scored a record-breaking sixth victory in the Monza Rally Show, overcoming a late 10-second penalty for having an underweight car.

Rossi, joined by regular co-driver Carlo Cassina, leapt to a six-second lead over former Audi LMP1 driver Marco Bonanomi on Sunday’s opening stage.

But his chances were dealt a blow when he was subsequently given a 10-second penalty for his 2016-spec Ford Fiesta RS WRC being found to be 7kg underweight.

That gave a Bonanomi a lead of 2.7 seconds in his Citroen DS3, which he maintained on the penultimate stage before losing time on the short final stage by going off-track twice.

Those errors allowed Rossi, who won the penultimate stage, to recover to win the event by 5.7s – and move himself one clear of five-time victor Rinaldo Capello in the all-time winners’ list.

Bonanomi ended up slipping down to third in the final standings behind Hyundai WRC drivers Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen, who took it turns behind the wheel of an i20 WRC.

Neuville won the opening stage of the event on Friday, and took another win on Saturday morning, but a 10-second penalty for hitting a circuit marker and then a left-rear puncture put paid to his and Mikkelsen’s hopes.

A final win for the pair on the last stage of the rally left them 2.7s clear of Bonanomi in second place.

Motocross world champion Tony Cairoli (Hyundai) was fourth, also being penalised for having an underweight car, while two-time Italian rally champion Piero Longhi (Ford) completed the top five.

Another WRC driver – Citroen’s Craig Breen was present in Monza, but retired from the event on Saturday after his DS3 suffered an engine failure.

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