Sandro Munari is a former Italian motor racing and rally driver. He was born on 27th of March 1940 in Cavarzere, in the Province of Venice, Italy.
Sandro Munari - famous Lancia Stratos rally driver
Started rally career as navigator
He started as a navigator to Arnaldo Cavallari in an Alfa Romeo Giulia Super and went on to become a rally driver relatively late. In 1965, Munari began competing in the Italian Rally Championship and two years later, he won the title. He repeated his success in 1969 and in 1973 and became the European Rally Championship winner.
Youtube Video - Victory at 1972 Monte Carlo rally
In 1972, Munari claimed his first major victory when he won the Monte Carlo Rally, driving Lancia Fulvia. That same year, Munari won the legendary Targa Florio endurance race, partnering with Arturo Merzario in Ferrari 312PB.
Driving Lancia Stratos at Ivory Coast rallye
Glory days in Lancia Stratos
However, Sandro Munari owes part of his fame to another Lancia rally icon - the Lancia Stratos HF. With that beauty of a car, Munari won another three consecutive Monte Carlo Rally titles in 1975, 1976 and 1977, claiming a total of seven World Rally Championship race victories in his career. The crowning glory of his career was the WRC title which he took in 1977, driving the magnificent Lancia Stratos HF.
Sandro driving Lancia Stratos at 1978 Monte Carlo rallye
Slow end of the career
Later in his career, Munari drove a Fiat 131 Abarth, but he wasn’t so successful even though he finished third at the Tour de Corse in 1978, and sixth at the Ivory Coast Rally in 1980. That was his only appearance in the competition that year. From 1980 until 1984, Munari made only five starts in the WRC events and all of them were in Africa. Apart from the race in Ivory Coast, he only competed in Rally of Kenya but was forced to retire four years in-a-row.
Driving Fiat Abarth 131
One of the best Italian drivers of all times
‘Dragon’, as Munari is fondly called by many, is considered to be one of the most successful Italian rally drivers of all times, probably second after his teacher Arnaldo Cavallari. Munari’s career could have been far more successful had it not been marked by a series of unfortunate incidents as the car he was driving often ran into problems forcing him to retire.
Sandro Munari - posing with Porsche, but Lancia remains his love
Dragon breathes fire, but also has a big heart
'The Dragon', what was one of Sandro's nicknames, survived one horrible crash during 1968 Monte Carlo Rally. While they were transferred in another car for one of the stages, Munari's co-driver Luciano Lombardini was killed in a crash caused by a truck at a blind curve. Sandro was transferred to the hospital and had complicated surgery in which his spleen was removed. Interestingly, Munari, even after decades after the accident, can't recall a single moment before or after the accident.
Youtube video - Sandro Munari driving Lancia Stratos