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In 1969, Salvador Cañellas established himself on four wheels

Few drivers have been as versatile as Salvador Cañellas, who during the 1969 season, and after already being a reference in the world of two wheels, managed not only to enter the world of rallying, but also to be the winner of the first Cup. National Renault 8 TS.

"“Sales follow the checkered flag.” Fresh from leaving Montesa after his disagreements with Pere Permanyer, Francisco Xavier Bultó repeated this sentence like a mantra. And yes, that worked because, not in vain, Bultaco became one of the most respected companies in the field of two wheels thanks to that maxim. Always innovating from what was learned in the races and, therefore, knowing how to use the competition not only as the best test bed but also as a prestigious advertising platform.

This being the case, no one can deny the importance of competition when it comes to selling vehicles. At least, in a past time where the absence of social networks and other instruments of banality put the focus on the written press and, above all, on the tangible successes achieved by technological efficiency. Something, in short, very different from selling cars according to the color palette or the size of the screen dedicated to infotainment.

That said, the popularization of motorsport in Spain in the sixties had an effective element of dissemination in the single-brand cups. Organized by manufacturers as diverse as Chrysler -SIMCA-, FASA -Renault- or SEAT, these served to promote among potential buyers the benefits of models and engines produced in large series.

Likewise, several generations of drivers with names as significant as Carlos Sainz, Luis Villamil, Luis Pérez Sala or, without going any further, Salvador Cañellas himself trained on their starting grids. However, in the case of the latter the truth is that His versatility at the controls of any vehicle made his career a more unorthodox story than the others..

Let's see. To begin with, this Catalan born in 1944 not only limited his career to the world of motorsports. In fact, thanks to winning the Spanish GP - in the 125 displacement - he managed to become the first Spanish winner of a test in the Motorcycle World Championship. Likewise, to his credit we can also find up to three victories in the 24 Hours of Montjuïc as well as notable participation in the Bultaco and Derbi teams.

However, on four wheels it stood out for more than a decade, with excellent performances on models as different as a Pegasus truck or the brief UFO; nickname by which the modified Goggomobil of 1968 was known, to which The two-stroke engine from a DKW van was incorporated next to the exhaust of a Bultaco Metralla. Without a doubt, one of the most ingenious creations when it comes to Iberian racing.

Furthermore, during 1972 he won both the National Rally Championship and the SEAT 1430 Formula. All of this was topped off with outstanding performances in the SEAT Competition team - about which we are already preparing a series of articles - and the Spanish Touring Car Championship. of 1979.

Now, if we have to choose a key year for Salvador Cañellas' start in motor racing, this could well be it - with the permission of the protagonist, who still pilots meticulously and professional-, 1969.

1969, THE YEAR IN WHICH SALVADOR CAÑELLAS WAS CROWNED ON THE FOUR WHEELS

For once, and without serving as a precedent, we are not only going to offer you the finalized article but also the reason for it. And, reviewing the career of Salvador Cañellas in newspaper archives and classification records, we were able to notice the unquestionable presence of the year 1969. Clearly, a moment of change in the life of our protagonist pilot. To begin with, he had just achieved something as important as a test in the 1968 Motorcycle World Championship on the back of a Bultaco 125.

However, his versatile engine capabilities led him to turn his interest to motorsports for the following season. To begin with, we see examples of his skill in hill racing thanks to the piloting of the so-called UFO. Vehicle with which He competed in the climbs to Begues, Monserrat and Montseny. Possibly the only competition entries of that artisanal, eccentric and fascinating design before it was withdrawn for reasons related to safety. At least formally, without taking into account the concern - and animosity - that it raised among rivals with more expensive frames.

But the question did not stop there. Far from it, trying to find the debut of Salvador Cañellas in the world of rallying we have found a very interesting fact: his participation in the 6th Costa del Sol International Rally held also in 1969. Appointment to which he attended driving an Alpine A110 and in which, in addition, managed to come second with Carlos Domínguez as co-pilot. Likewise, a few weeks before he had already performed his debut in this specialty when registering for the 5th Barcelona-Andorra organized by the RACC. He cites this one in which, yes, there is no record of having reached the finish line.

In short, it is very interesting to see the beginnings of someone who, a few years later, would become a national rally champion while putting in memorable performances in Monte Carlo with SEAT Competition. In any case, what has led us to think of the year 1969 as the key moment for Salvador Cañellas' transition to the world of motorsports has been his victory in the first Renault Cup.

Of those called the Renault 8 TS National Cup, this one brought together up to 24 drivers responsible for forming one of the most interesting quarries in the history of peninsular racing. What's more, along with that of our protagonist we can also find names such as José Pavón - remembered in the Orense panorama and, in addition, very close to the story of Estanislao Reverter and his Alpinche - or Emilio Rodríguez Zapico - who even participated in the European Touring Car Championship.

Now, beyond the skills demonstrated by his teammates and rivals, the truth is that Salvador Cañellas was dominant in each and every one of the events of the Renault 8 TS National Cup. What's more, he did not fail to win in any of them, achieving a crushing victory well above the times recorded in the rest of the grid. Besides, That had excellent results for the FASA of Valladolid in advertising matters Well, not in vain, beyond an evident freedom in the settings, those 8 TS were “strictly standard”.

In short, without leaving motorcycling aside - precisely in 1969 he won the first of his three victories in the 24 Hours of Montjuïc, this time on the iconic Bultaco 360 with Carles Rocamora as a duo - Salvador Cañellas signed a sensational year of transition to motorsports clearly announcing his abilities in it. Without a doubt, an effective professional on any type of terrain and mount.

Images: Virtual Library of Historical Press

P.D. In the words of Salvador Cañellas himself, his arrival at the Renault 8 TS National Cup was as hurried as it was coincidental. What's more, the decision to register was made just two weeks before the first race, counting on an 8 TS donated by a friend of a friend. This is proof that, sometimes, it is worth jumping into the pool even with some improvisation and promptness. Likewise, FASA gave the champion an 8 TS as a prize for the Cup. What could have become of that unit?

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Written by Miguel Sánchez

Through the news from La Escudería, we will travel the winding roads of Maranello listening to the roar of the Italian V12; We will travel Route66 in search of the power of the great American engines; we will get lost in the narrow English lanes tracking the elegance of their sports cars; We will speed up the braking in the curves of the Monte Carlo Rally and we will even get dusty in a garage while rescuing lost jewels.

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