Initially, the Rallye Internazionale di Sanremo was based on the same format as the Rallye Monte-Carlo, and that is why its official name still includes the word ‘Rallye’ à la française (with an ‘e’), whereas the Italian spelling is ‘rally’.
The original event was run for just two years, in 1928 and 1929, but was resuscitated in 1961 as the Rallye des Fleurs, then the Rallye di Sanremo, the Sanremo-Sestrières Rally d’Italia and, finally, the Rallye Sanremo from 1972.
The following year, it was included as a round of the newly-created World Rally Championship and was won by Jean-Luc Thérier (Alpine-Renault/MICHELIN).
With the exception of 1995, the Sanremo counted towards the WRC every year until 2003 when it was replaced as Italy’s flagship event by the Rally Sardinia. The Sanremo survived the switch, however, and has featured on the calendar of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge since 2006.
Until 1997, the hallmark feature of the Rallye Sanremo was its mixed-surface format, with the first and last legs using asphalt roads through the mountains that tower over the Riviera, while Leg 2 visited the superb gravel stages of the Tuscany region.