Entered for the “Fiesta Var Challenge” organised by Alain Mahé in the context of the Rallye du Var, Nelson Panciatici, who was partnered with co-driver René Padovani, was victorious in his first rally. A success he built up in the first stage raced at night, where he was neck and neck with more powerful cars than his Ford Fiesta R2, prepped to precision by the Group Maurin, the chassis balance of which held up perfectly to the treacherous roads of the Var backcountry.
With more than a minute lead on second, Nelson Panciatici then stayed on top of his time advantage and took his foot off the pedal on the last day so he could get his Ford Fiesta R2, in the colours of his partners P1 Advanced Racewear, Ralf Tech watches and the EuroFormula Driving School, back to base safely.
To start out in a rally as difficult as the VAR, which was particularly treacherous this year, was not easy for Nelson and his co-driver.
“Luckily, I had a good co-driver who helped me feel at ease because it was really difficult at times,” Nelson Panciatici explains, “Where I had the most difficulty was not with the notes which were pretty accurate finally, even though I underestimated the speed sometimes, but the change of grip on the roads. As the rally progressed, I was judging the road better and better which helped me a lot on the last day. I was apprehensive about the night driving but I felt at home straight away, even if, at the start of the first special, I didn’t know what to expect! Race management is also different because you have to know to slow down, especially when it’s treacherous, and it’s difficult to find the right balance. Luckily my team and co-driver really helped me. What is for sure is that the adrenaline levels are much higher than on the circuit and you have to be on tracks like Spa Francorchamps to find the same thrills. I have a lot of respect and admiration for rally drivers because it’s a very difficult sport. I got a lot of pleasure from competing in this rally behind the wheel of my Ford Fiesta and, before taking the road back to the circuit, I really want to renew the experience in the Monte Carlo!”
For René Padovani, his co-driver, it was his first time on board with a track racer and worth getting his impressions: “Nelson has a critical eye with great attention to detail but what surprised me the most was the distance in braking and the pressure he put on the pedal. In the first special I thought we wouldn’t stop, several times! With regards to his driving, it’s very much trajectory focused with few angles on the wheel although he is very skilful in emergencies, like the Collobrieres hairpin bend which we met side on, at high speed. On top of that Nelson is blessed with a “brain” which works well because he knew when to slow down when he felt he was in overdrive. As soon as he has improved his noting system he will be awesome because what I’ve seen so far is impressive. If he’s doing the Monte Carlo, I’m in!”
As we can see, the Nelson Panciatici-René Padovani duo seem to get on well and if they are ready to let rip together on the snowy routes of the Monte Carlo rally, then it leaves only their partners to be talked into it!
For more information on Nelson Panciatici, please visit www.nelsonpancia.com.