The 2021 FIA European Historic Rally Championship is due to get underway next month with the first of nine rallies planned on this season’s calendar. After an exciting and action packed 2019 season the competitors are looking forward to getting back onto the stages across Europe after the 2020 was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the first of a series of short interviews with the leading competitors, we spoke to Italian Andrea ‘Zippo’ Zivian, who narrowly missed out on the Category 3 title in 2019, finishing the season just two points behind Austrian Karl Wagner at the end of the nine events.
‘Zippo’ competes in the iconic Audi quattro, liveried in the period works colours of the German brand, and was a force to be reckoned with out on the stages, scoring three class wins in Belgium, Austria and on the Italian island of Elba.
Q1: How have you and your family been during the Covid-19 Pandemic and have you been able to compete in any form of motorsport during the past year?
AZ: “Fortunately, our family was not affected by the pandemic, probably living in an area that is not highly populated, we were less likely to be infected or, more simply, we were luckier than others. As for the races, unfortunately we were only able to participate in the Elba Rally, while for all the others there were problems with postponements or cancellations due to Covid, fortunately I was able to keep me in training with the kart since the tracks were open.”
Q2: What are your plans for the 2021 FIA European Historic Rally Championship? Do you intend to take part in all rounds?
AZ: “I certainly intend to participate in the entire FIA European Historic Rally Championship 2021, also because in 2019 the victory in category D3 escaped us by a whisker at the last race in Hungary and as a result we want to try again to win the title.”
Q3: What is your favourite rally on the 2021 EHRC calendar?
AZ: “Obviously, driving an all-wheel drive car that made rally history, my favourite race can only be the Lahti on the legendary Finnish dirt roads where the Audi quattro won a lot in the 1980s.”
Q4: Tell us more about the Audi quattro. When did you buy it and what is the history of the car?
AZ: “When I started taking part in historic rallies in 2011 I wanted a car that had no one, and I chose an Audi quattro. I found one in Sweden, which broke immediately the day after arriving.
“We had so many problems trying to make it work because it is not an ordinary car and consequently it was not easy to find workshop manuals or people who understood something, especially for its Pierburg mechanical injection system, truly an engineering masterpiece if we think that it was developed in the 1980s, but so difficult for any mechanic who never worked on it at the time to understand and set up.
“The car was an original Audi chassis used for tests and never in the race in the 80s, instead all its components were original Audi Sport of the time, so we managed to start at least from a good base, we copied all the parts of the car to be able to replicate them with care then to be able to build other cars identical to the original.
“After so many years we have built a car that went fast, worked and won! To the point that in 2014 I was contacted by Jari-Matti Latvala, at the time Volkswagen official driver in the WRC and vice world champion. I thought it was a joke, but it was he who asked me to buy my car. He came to test it in Reggio Emilia and from there the friendship was born: I rented my car to him for three races, then I built for him a car identical to mine that I proudly delivered to him personally at his home in Finland. From there I began to restore both road and racing Audi quattro.”
Q5: Hopefully we will be able to start the season in Sanremo next month, which will be one of two Italian rallies on the calendar. What are your thoughts on the Sanremo being back on the calendar?
AZ: “I am very happy with the return of the Sanremo Rally, it is a fascinating race that perfectly evokes the spirit of historic rallies and above all because Sanremo has always been one of the most famous races in the world and certainly having it in the Championship can only do good to the whole series, even if for us it is not the most congenial race as the special stages are very narrow and tortuous and our Audi quattro is not the most agile …”
Q6: Why do you rally under the name ‘Zippo’ and where does the name come from?
AZ: “Do you know the famous lighter? Here, my character is a bit like him; I “turn-on” in a nano-second!”
2021 FIA European Historic Rally Championship
From the Touring Cars and GTs of the 1960s, Group 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the 1970s and the Groups A, B and N of the 1980s, the FIA European Historic Rally Championship features cars from the golden era of rallying.
The 2021 EHRC season will feature nine events in Italy, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Finland, Spain and Switzerland.