I'm talking to a Jeep representative when, over my left shoulder, a Grand Cherokee heaves over the crest of a hill – and solidly embeds itself in a hidden ditch.

There's lots of off-roading going on at the Camp Jeep event we're at, but it's usually confined to the trails surrounding the centre and not its car park.

The Grand Cherokee spins its wheels, throttle pinned to the floor and undertrays complaining at the abuse, before clambering its way to freedom and into its proper parking space.

An enthusiastic-looking fellow clambers out of the Jeep's cabin, shuts the door and bounds over to join us. He realises our glance is transferring to him, to the Jeep, and back again, trying to compute his somewhat unusual entrance.

"A shortcut," he says, grinning. The press officers introduce us; this is Massimo 'Miki' Biasion, the Italian two-time World Rally Champion. The man who drove legendary cars such as the Lancia 037, Delta Integrale and S4. The man who dominated Group A rallying in the late 1980s.

I'm somewhat overcome, but also slightly confused as to why he's at a Jeep event. He tells me it's because of the region's fantastic wine, cheese and prosciutto, and laughs.

"It's actually my first event with Jeep," he says. "I love off-road events, and have been a rally driver for many years and campaigned many cars. To be here and stay with off-road enthusiasts is a great opportunity."

Biasion, who lives in the north-east of Italy, appears impressed by the Grand Cherokee. "It's a limousine but it can go everywhere; the comfort and capability is unbelievable," he says.

He does a quick head count and, realising that there are only two journalists and one Jeep representative, asks if we'd like to come along for a ride. I can't say "yes" fast enough.

We jump into a Wrangler that's just returned from a lap of the trails around Camp Jeep. Biasion gets comfortable in his seat, fires up the engine and drives the Jeep briskly out of the parking area, wheels already scrabbling on the loose surface.

A marshal guides us into the trail's entrance – a sharp corner that leads down a steep hill. The surface is rocky, with lots of loose gravel and sand, and deep ditches loom either side of it. Put a wheel wrong at speed and you'd probably regret it. Even the instructors drive very sedately here, though, so I'm not expecting any drama.

Biasion, however, clearly has other ideas. We clear the marshal, the nose swings down, pointing into the valley, and he pins the throttle to the floor. The Jeep surges forwards, body weaving left and right, axles swinging wildly; I realise very quickly I'm going to have to brace myself against the roll cage a little more firmly.

Over the whine of the turbocharger, the roar of the diesel and the clatter of shrapnel hitting the underside of the Jeep, I manage to ask Biasion what his top tips are for off-road driving.

"You must drive a Jeep," he shouts, beaming, before sawing at the wheel and sending the Jeep into a graceful slide, arcing around the complete length of a corner.

"If you drive fast off road you lose time, though," says Biasion. "The trick is to follow the ground with the car and the wheels, drive very smoothly. If you try to push a little bit and the car starts to jump and shake, it's much more uncomfortable and usually slower."

He puts the Wrangler through a rut, causing it to bounce hard, and fights to get it pointing back in the right direction – demonstrating his point precisely.

"You have to make good use of the traction, too," he adds, "if you hurry and spin the wheels then you'll lose time." Biasion observes that this is where a lot of people go wrong in off-road hillclimbs too, making rushed, fast ascents – when they should instead take their time and crawl up.

We turn off on to one of the more aggressive tracks, slick with mud and covered in deep ruts. The Jeep representative, who's come along for the ride, points out that the traction control is still on. Biasion flicks the switch, squeezes the throttle and all four wheels spin wildly. This seems to please him, presumably because of the extra degree of control and flexibility, and he pushes on into the woods.

"In the mud you must use the brakes very gently, very smoothly," he observes. "Never lock the wheels; if you do, the mud packs into the tread in the tyres, then it's incredibly difficult to get any grip or traction."

The Jeep ploughs with gusto through the ruts, its speed constant, Biasion just making minor inputs to keep it on the right path. We clear the trail, making our way back on to the gravel section, and he opens the throttle wide again. Gravel is fired backwards at a vast rate of knots, the Wrangler lunges forwards, and the next series of corners is rapidly dispatched in a series of neatly linked drifts. This, I can't help thinking, is mad; this is an SUV, not a hatchback.

Camp Jeep 2014 report and gallery

"The electronics these days really help, though," says Biasion. "For example, if you're in dunes you can go anywhere in a new off-roader, but if you try to do the same without you'll get stuck every 10 metres.

"It's the same in snow, but people must understand that while four-wheel drive and electronic systems helps you go, they won't help you stop," he affirms. "If you don't have winter, or even all-season tyres, you won't be able to do anything. You can be the World Rally Champion, but if you don't have the proper tyres then it's dangerous."

A rally car this is not, but everything appears so precise, controlled and moderated that the ride is nothing but intoxicating and invigorating, rather than alarming – despite the severity of the terrain.

Our rapidly travelling Wrangler closes the distance on a new Renegade that is tiptoeing around the course. Biasion gets within a few feet of it and darts incisively left and right, looking for a gap, pushing closer and closer. It's clear that his competitive edge is still razor sharp.

He manages to get a few feet up the inside of it at one point, but there's simply not enough room. He beeps the horn once, waking the Renegade driver up; they promptly pull over slightly, Biasion guns the engine, waves thankfully and shouts "ciao" out of the window. The driver of the Renegade merrily waves back, despite now being enveloped in a cloud of dust from our rapidly accelerating Wrangler.

The Jeep storms down another gradient, up the next ascent and then – as it breaches the top of the hill – leaps into the air. Biasion keeps his foot in, the Jeep landing squarely and smoothly on the approach to the next hillock, and then repeats the process again. With the terrain, I think, not against it. Clearly he's been around this circuit before.

Suddenly he hammers on the brakes, the Jeep sliding on the loose surface. He pitches the now slowed Wrangler into a corner, and gently rolls past a marshal’s point placed just around the corner with the engine idling. He salutes, a slightly comical smile on his face, waits until they’re out of view and then, lo and behold, wrings the engine out for all it's worth.

We arrive back at the meeting point, adrenalin pumping and feeling all too inclined to ask if we can do that again – but we have to move on, and Biasion has other people to give rides to.

The grins and our vibrant demeanour make it clear that we've enjoyed ourselves, though, and we pour forth praise and thanks. Biasion nods appreciatively.

"It's a great thing to do because you're in nature and there's no traffic," he says. "You have to drive carefully and respect nature, though – drive using your head and intelligence. Drive aggressively and it won't end well."

There's just time for one more question: does he own a Lancia? The answer is, sadly, no – he has a Jeep and a Fiat Fremont.

In some respects, however, it doesn't come as a surprise; judging by the number of videos of him driving historic rally cars on YouTube, the frequent opportunities to drive them probably outweigh the need to own one.

Nevertheless, from this experience alone, it's clear his passion, enthusiasm and ability haven't faded one ounce.

"It's a good feeling, off-roading, isn't it?" he adds, as we turn to depart. "I love it."

Camp Jeep 2014 report and gallery

See Miki Biasion in action in his Lancia Delta S4 below