For many the idea of ​​adapting a professional rally simulator also to the needs of people with disabilities was madness, for others a visionary dream. Many had also wondered why an investment of time and money. Yet Massimiliano Gambel, business consultant and great rally enthusiast, did not give up and after months of work he managed to make it happen.

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He says it is the first in Europe and it is to be believed. The simulator for the able and disabled was born from the desire to carry out a social inclusion project with different purposes: it can be used for pre-competition training or for participation in virtual E-Sport competitions, for rehabilitation and to give confidence and hope to people who want to drive again after an accident, Gambel says. Il Corriere was able to try this simulator. The Gambel Hap group is located in the southwestern outskirts of Arese (Milan), not too far from the largest shopping center in Europe, the track of the former Alfa Romeo factory and the museum that celebrates the success of the sporty-hearted snake .

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Rally, none in the simulator

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In a complex of prefabricated warehouses salmon-colored all the same, at number 40/42 in via Montegrappa is the door of the Rally Academy and the racing car rental company Hap Rally Team. We are welcomed by Valentina Gloria Ciceri, Gambel’s navigator and her life partner. A small reception office, then the meeting room and finally the workshop where 4 rally cars are well parked, one of which is suitable for people with disabilities. A little further away is a sports seat placed in front of three screens. Here is the simulator for the able and disabled: clearly visible on the steering wheel the ring that acts as an accelerator and the silver brake knob that can be manipulated by those who cannot use the pedals. (Unfortunately, a night power jump damaged a screen and the test could only be done with the central screen).

Rally, none in the simulator

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You lower yourself into the seat, tighten the five-point belt, you choose the path and here is the way. The seat vibrates, the volume of the speakers placed behind the seat gives the roar of a 300 horsepower open exhaust car… green light and off we go. Right 3 closes 2… 80 (meters) .. chicane right entry…. And the first off-piste around the corner. The steering wheel becomes hard and with force returns the roughness of the ground or the pendulum effect of the rear axle. Steering and counter-steering… adrenaline and effort to manage the car. Not a video game and to underestimate it you go to fields and down cliffs. As Gambel says: We had national and international Rally Champions test it on the occasion of the Monza Rally Show 2019. So we were in the cockpit of a racing car, with 300 hp under the hood, short gears, race tires, a wrong exit to put us out of the game, but in the simulator the injured car trudges but reaches the end.

Look at the ranking, last with an abysmal delay and the car that makes that little noise just out of a bumper car. Wounded pride and the desire for revenge push you to try again, modulating the accelerator and brake with greater attention, trying to listen to the virtual navigator. Goes better. Well, but not great. Then you go to Monte Carlo with the snow and then to Greece with the dirt road. Behind the seat is Gambel who observes, advises and corrects. Track after track you learn.

Rally, none in the simulator

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There is the whole World Cup enclosed in that PC case. But in that box there are also the dreams of some disabled person who entrusts him with the first steps towards the seat of a real car. The simulator, which can be purchased from 16 thousand euros in the dual controls and curved single screen version with the possibility of customization, is also an important component of the course we hold for people with disabilities, theory and practice, explains Gambel. We have also prepared a car which, if we find the right crew, could participate in the eight races of the Italian Rally Championship (CIR) next year.

The team has its eye on the winning driver of the disabled category of the Rally Italia Talent, Marco Piccoli, 24 years old from the province of Modena, who is running on the track with the car to gain experience. 2021 will tell if he really gets on track.

November 9, 2020 (change November 9, 2020 | 15:59)

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