At Omega, the final preparations are being completed for one of the most awaited events of the season, the Panda Raid, in which once again this year the Verona team will be the protagonist, starting with a patrol made up of no fewer more than twenty crews among the almost three hundred that will compete from April 28th to May 6th from Spain to Morocco.
“The Panda Raid is not just a race” – says Ivano Griso (President of Omega) – “it is a personal challenge to test the limits and abilities of each individual. It’s an 80’s style raid, without satellite but only with road book and compass to help you along the way. They live with a similar spirit to the Dakar, except that here they drive a forty-year-old Panda and not the latest generation off-road vehicles. It’s true that we’re fighting and that there will be winners, but the team spirit that develops among the participants is just as important, almost more important than the result. It’s the team that wins, stands together and supports each other, and achieving that goal is already a victory. A kind of camaraderie develops, like in the days of military service.”
The relay of the Scala team will be opened on the legendary Fiat Panda 4×4 in the Raid version by a trident from Switzerland, led by Enrico Piana, flanked by Andreas Rafael, ahead of Fulvio Salis, with his sister Durietta at the top on the right and Marcel Lauber with Daniele Zanolari.
The first representatives of the tricolor will be Milan’s Luca Mantegazza with Ivan Ignazio Rosina and Valerio Renato Gastoldi with Mauro Pegorini, followed by President Ivano Griso.
The patron shares the cockpit with Mirko Caloi, ahead of the only flag-bearer to cross the English Channel, Londoner Gianluca Marini, who is joined by Henry Marini at his side.
Number 35 for Stefano Pietropoli, together with Alessandra Bianco, an all-Veronese duo that will precede the Paduans Nicola Valentini and Fabio Cecchi, closely followed by another Veronese couple, the one formed by Claudio Zambelli and Nadia Zamperini.
Scrolling through the starting list, the alternation between the provinces of Padua and Verona continues, starting with Attilio Barzon, with Cristina Indra Georgeta at his side, continuing with Federico Paolo Brunelli, Maurizio Corradi on his right and with Giorgio Bianconi, with Rossano Riolfi .
Marcello Tracanzan will also be ready to fight from the Venetian paired with Moreno Vanin, followed by the Padua duo consisting of Massimiliano Losi and Marco Lion.
Verona protagonist again, thanks to the inclusion of Roberto Dalla Riva and Carla Benedetti Vallenari, to anticipate Luciano Favaro and Daniela Zanchin, arriving from Padua.
The provinces of Treviso and Bergamo are also defended with drawn swords, respectively by Giuseppe Cazziolato, with Marco Gentile on the right, and by Daniele Bertolin, with Antonella Rutigliano.
The Scaligeri Fabio Volpato and Andrea Volpato take care of completing the contingent.
The Veronese stable will present itself on the starting line with the awareness of already being shortlisted for contenders for the nobility districts, thanks to the sixth overall victory signed in the 2021 edition with the young men from Bergamo Filippo Amigoni and Michele Boschini.
“The Panda Raid is not just any event” – emphasizes Griso (Omega President) – “but like the Dakar, it is an appointment that requires a whole year of preparation because every little detail has to be taken into account. The unexpected always lurks. We will leave with a great desire to do well and try to improve on the sixth overall we brought home in 2021.”
The challenge begins on Wednesday April 26th, departing from Verona to complete the first three stages of approximately two thousand kilometers to reach Almeria on the Andalusian coast of Spain, where the technical controls are scheduled for Friday April 28th are departure officers.
Competitors will have to face seven stages in the desert for a total of two thousand four hundred effective combat kilometers to cross the finish line in Marrakech, Morocco, on Saturday May 6th, with the checkered flag waving.
“The caravan that will leave Verona will be made up of no fewer than thirty-three teams” – says Ivano Griso (President of Omega) – “of which no fewer than twenty will defend the colors of Omega. The others joined us to travel together, considering us true veterans of the event. We have a well-fed group, led by Triveneto and our city with seven flag-bearers. We will do our best to achieve high goals.”
A particularly important 2023 edition for the colors of the Scala association, which this year can boast of the patronage of the ACI Verona and the jewel of the catwalk, with the presentation of all the participants, which will start on Saturday April 22 at 8 p.m in the enchanting setting of Piazza Bra, a few steps from the Arena di Verona, on the occasion of the arrival of the Due Valli Rally, between the conclusion of the historic rally and that of the modern rally, to give further prestige to the initiative strongly promoted by President Griso .
“Bringing the ACI Verona brand to competition” – adds Griso – “will be a great source of pride for us, but at the same time an important responsibility. I sincerely thank ACI Verona for granting us their patronage, with a promise to do everything possible to bring their name to the forefront at such a prestigious event. Thanks also to the whole organization of the Rallye Due Valli, the most important event for rallying in Verona, because the opportunity to present our crews after the arrival of the last historic ones and before the modern ones will be a very valuable showcase for all of us and for the partners who support us in the project.”