MotoGP front-runner Andrea Dovizioso made a stunning World Rally Car debut in the Bettega Memorial Rallysprint in Bologna, finishing a close second after pushing 2003 WRC champion Petter Solberg all the way in the final.
The Italian, who will ride for Tech 3 Yamaha in 2012, had competed at the Monza Rally Show in a Peugeot 207 S2000 at the end of November, but for Bettega was handed control of the official Ford Fiesta RS run by M-Sport in this year's WRC.
Finishing fourth in the Memorial Night Sprint, Dovizioso out-did established rally stars including Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke by reaching the final, where he came up against Solberg. After sharing the wins it came down to a tie-break and one final run around the asphalt and gravel course, which Solberg won.
"I really enjoyed it," Dovizioso said. "I didn't think I could race at the same level as the fastest rally drivers in the world already.
"For me it's an honor to be here and to have one of the best machines in the world, a Ford Focus RS WRC 2011. It was great to reach the final and battle with Solberg, although I must admit that [it] annoys me not to win. I hope to return again next year"
Staged annually as part of the Bologna Motor Show, the Bettega Memorial Rallysprint commemorates former Lancia factory driver Attilio Bettega, who died following an accident on the Tour de Corse in 1985.