With the arrival of spring the days get longer, nature awakens and many animals come out of hibernation, just like all that cars that spent the winter locked in a box or under a tarp. What better way to start driving them again after this long time than partecipating at the Trieste-Opicina Historic? For those who didn’t know it, the Trieste-Opicina has been one of the most long-lived and important races in Europe. It’s so called because the original hillclimb route started in Trieste and ended up in the village of Opicina. It took place from 1911 until 1971 (with some interruptions due to the two world wars), when, after a serious accident occoured, the races was definitively canceled. Among the various drivers who participated in the race, we remember names like Tazio Nuvolari, Achille Varzi, Andrea de Adamich and Jochen Rindt. In 1982, thanks to “Club dei Venti all’Ora” and the “A.S.I”, the event reborns in the form of rievocation and a regularity rally.
This was the second consecutive time I’ve joined in this event. As last year, the car and the crew were the same, composed by Lorenzo (driver, on your right), Alessio (first co-driver, on your left) and me (second co-driver and “moral support”, in the middle). We raced with a 1972 “Rosso Amaranto” Giulia Super 1300, which last year, unfortunately abandoned us in the middle of the race due to some engine issues. The main goal for the 2019 Trieste-Opicina is to complete the race and cross the finish line with the same car with which we started. The race took place during the first weekend of April, and was divided in “Classic” and “Touring”. The first is a regularity rally, while the second is a sightseeing tour to discover the beauties from the surrounding area of Trieste. Obviously we joined the Classic, but in the “Young” class, with crews composed by members with less than 30 year of age.
It’s 8:30 in the morning when we arrived in an unusually desert Piazza dell’Unità d’Italia for technical checks before the start, populated only by all the competitors and their cars. Once parked the Giulia, the staff provided us with stickers and race numbers to be applied on the car. While waiting for the race to begin, I decided to take a look around. Alfa Giulietta SS, 75 Milano, Lotus Esprit, MG J2, Citroën DS Cabriolet, Renault 5 Turbo 2; were just only a few of all the beautiful cars that filled the largest square overlooking the sea in the world. The atmosphere you could feel there was wonderful: engines revving, smell of gasoline, happy people chatting to each other and getting the car ready with last-minute checks.
10 a.m, the first competitor leave Piazza dell’Unità. Within a few minutes it would have been our turn, so it was time to warm up the Giulia and begin to take place in the long queue to the starting line. 5,4,3,2,1…go! The tricolor flag waved over the windshield, first gear in and we left the square passing trough an avenue of people applauding us, direct towards the “Boschetto”. Firts part of the sector 5 and also first stage of the day, with its 9 trials, of which 3 were avarage speed-sectors, the “Boschetto” is a twisty uphill road with many hairpin turns. Except for a few small imperfections, it went pretty well, and the same could be said regarding the second part of the 5th sector, which took place in the parking spot of the Science Park Area.
Once finished the first half of the race we head towards the small village of Repen for the mid-morning break, a good opportunity to refresh and have a chat with the other drivers just before the start of the last sector of the race. To reach this location we drove trough beautiful karst landscapes, vineyards and small villages where the time seemed to have stopped, exactly like in the Giulia. We weren’t alone during our journey, but in good company of another Super. And it was in that moment that both me and Alessio realized our car and this particular situation, projected us in a bygone era we never lived. Two Giulias, two screaming carburettors engines, the smell of petrol and twisty roads ahead us. Tell me if were we really back in the ’70s or it was just a lucid dream.
Once arrived in Repen, waiting for us there were about thirty cars, which within ten minutes became over seventy! Cars as far as the eye can see, a colorful carpet made of roofs. While Lorenzo and Alessio went to eat something nearby, I preferred to take a walk in this dream parking full of classics and youngtimers of all types, some of which seeing them on the road is still a big deal.
The break was over, time to get in the cars and warm up the engines fot the second and last stage of the race, the 6th sector: six time trials and four avarage speed-sectors, all distributed between Repen, Samatorza and S.Pelagio. Initially everything seemed to be going well until we messed up the second avarage speed trial, due to a small evaluation mistake, arriving on the pressure switch several second in advance. Embittered, we tried to recover or at least marginalize the disadvantage by doing our best and trying to do the remaining trials at the best of our chances, arriving always very precise on the pressure switchs until the unthinkable happened. During the second-last trial we resoundingly took the wrong turn, nullyfing all the efforts done until that moment. Shit happens.
Once completed the race, we drove back to Trieste with a big disappointment. After all, considering this is our second time ever we participate in a regularity rally without training or without having onboard any high level timer and tripmaster. Our main goal for the day was to arrive at the finish line in the same car we started with instead of a tow-truck, and we did it. Did we have fun? Undoubtedly and absolutely yes! Are we going to try it again next year? Yes!
The arrive in Piazza dell’Unità d’Italia was probably my favourite moment of the day. One of my biggest childhood dreams was to enter this square with a classic car right after having joined the race, and this year was the second time for me having this honor. It’s amazing how people were looking at you with so much admiration and amazament in their eyes, especially kids and elders, whose sometimes stopped for a few minutes to take a look at the car in religious silence, hinting only a shy smile on their face while lost in their thoughts.
Finally, after the lunch at the Savoia Exlesior Palace, it was time for the prize-giving cerimony and the reveal of all the race results. In spite of everthing that went wrong during the race, we still arrived 4th in the “Young” category and, if we hadn’t messed those two avarage-speed trials in the 6th sector, we could have reached even the third position! Anyway, the most important thing is always the same: having fun.
See you next year Trieste-Opicina Historic!