- March 27, 1940
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Sandro Munari is a former Italian racing and rally driver whose greatest success in a career was a victory in the FIA Cup for Rally drivers in 1977 (there was no World Rally Championship for drivers in 1977).
Earlier in a career, he was the European Rally Champion in 1973 and the Italian rally champion two times, in 1967 and 1969. Munari won the Rallye Monte-Carlo four times, including three consecutive wins from 1975 to 1977 when the rally was a part of the World Rally Championship.
He was also successful in sports car racing, winning the 1972 Targa Florio with Ferrari among other good results.
Munari started rally career as a navigator
Born in March 1940 in Cavarzere, in the Province of Venice, Munari started his career as a navigator to Arnaldo Cavallari in an Alfa Romeo Giulia Super. He moved to the driver's seat in 1965, entering the Italian Rally Championship in a Lancia Flavia Coupe.
He also went to Finland to participate in the Rally of the 1000 Lakes, a part of the European Rally Championship. In 1966, Munari made a Rallye Monte-Carlo debut in a Lancia Flavia and after that he switched to Lancia Fulvia HF.
Italian rally champion lost his navigator at 1968 Rallye Monte-Carlo
At the wheel of Lancia Fulvia HF, Munari won the Italian Rally Championship in 1967. Ouside Italy, he scored few podiums in ERC events and won Tour de Corse rally.
The season 1968 started with a tragedy at Rallye Monte-Carlo. Driving a Lancia Fulvia HF, Munari had an accident in which his navigator Luciano Lombardini lost a life. The crash was caused by a truck at a blind curve. Sandro was transferred to the hospital and had complicated surgery in which his spleen was removed.
In 1969, still driving a Lancia Fulvia, Munari captured his second national rally championship title.
Second place in the 1971 European Rally Championship
In 1970, Munari focused on participation in the International Championship for Makes, driving a Lancia Fulvia 1.6 Coupe HF for HF Scuderia Corse. The results were disappointing, with many retirements.
The similar results followed in 1971, when Munari managed to finish only the RAC Rally in the ninth place. On the other side, he won three times in the European Rally Championship to finish second in the final standings, behind Jean-Pierre Nicolas.
Youtube Video - Victory at 1972 Monte Carlo rally
Two great wins in 1972: Rallye Monte-Carlo and Targa Florio
In 1972, Munari claimed his first major victory when he won the Rallye Monte-Carlo Rally, driving the #14 Lancia Fulvia 1.6 Coupe HF. His navigator was Mario Mannucci.
That same year, Munari won the legendary Targa Florio endurance road race, partnering with Arturo Merzario in the #3 Ferrari 312PB. It was Munari's greatest result in sports car racing. Previously, he spent many years with different Lancia cars in sport car races all over the world but without major wins.
He was 14th at 1967 Sebring 12 Hours, 11th at 1968 Targa Florio, 9th at 1969 Targa Florio, first in P1.6 class at 1969 Nurburgring 1000 Km and first in GT1.6 class at 1970 Targa Florio. Munari was on a podium at Targa Florio again in 1973, finishing second in a Lancia Stratos HF together with Jean-Claude Andruet.
Winning European Rally Championship in 1973
In 1973, when the World Rally Championship has been established, Munari participated in just one WRC event - at Rallye Monte-Carlo. He didn't finished because of an accident.
That year, he focused his interest to the European Rally Championship, winning four rallies and capturing the championship title. He won two times in a Lancia Fulvia 1.6 Coupe HF and two times in a new Lancia Stratos HF.
Three consecutive wins at Rally Monte-Carlo from 1975 to 1977
Sandro Munari owes the most of his fame to iconic Lancia Stratos HF. With that beauty of a car, Munari scored his first WRC victory at 1974 Rallye Sanremo in October 1974. He also won the next WRC event, the Rally of the Rideu Lakes in Canada.
Then, in January 1975, the first of three consecutive Monte Carlo Rally wins came. In 1975, Munari won at Monte-Carlo with Mario Manucci as his navigator. In 1976 and 1977, his navigator was Silvio Maiga.
Glory days in a Lancia Stratos
Between those three Monte-Carlo victories, Munari recorded two more WRC wins in a Lancia Stratos HF in 1976, at Rallye de Portugal and Tour de Corse, increasing his total of WRC wins to seven.
In 1977, the victory at Rallye Monte-Carlo was his only in the WRC but he added two more wins in non-WRC events (Rally South Africa and Rally San Martino di Castrozza). Thanks to those three wins, Munari became the winner of the 1977 FIA Cup for Rally Drivers.
Last WRC attempt in 1984
The FIA Cup became the World Rally Championship for drivers in 1979. In that time, Munari already slowed down his rally activities. His last full season was 1978 in which he was driving both Fiat 131 Abarth (four events) and Lancia Stratos HF (two events). He finished third at the Tour de Corse in a Fiat and retired in other five events.
Between 1979 and 1984, Munari was returning to WRC in African events only, five times at Safari Rally and once in the Rallye Cote d'Ivoire. Driving a Fiat 131 Abarth, he finished tenth at 1979 Safari Rally and sixth at 1980 Rallye Cote d'Ivoire. From 1981 until 1984, he retired four times in a row at Safari Rally, driving Dodge Ramcharger (1981), Porsche 911 SC (1982), Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV6 (1983) and Toyota Celica Twincam Turbo (1984).
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.