WORLD RALLY STAR RAUTENBACH TO STAR IN AZORES … AND ALL THE OTHER LATEST IRC NEWS
Conrad Rautenbach will make his Intercontinental Rally Challenge debut on Sata Rally Azores on May 7-9.
Rautenbach, who drives for the Citroen Junior Team in the FIA World Rally Championship, will compete at the wheel of a Peugeot 207 Super 2000 run by the French PH Sport operation.
The Zimbabwean, a former FIA African rally champion, is keen to expand his experience of driving Super 2000 machinery. British co-driver Daniel Barritt will partner him.
"I’ve never competed in one of these cars before so I’m really looking forward to having a go in one," said Rautenbach. "I’ve seen the guys driving Super 2000 cars on rounds of the world championship earlier this year and they sound awesome. Obviously it’s going to take a while to get used to the lack of torque which we have from a turbocharged engine in a World Rally Car, but having come from a Junior car [1600cc non-turbo], a few years ago, I’m used to revving engines to get the most out of them."
The 24-year-old’s agreement to compete in the IRC is currently for the Azores event only although he could enter further rounds later in the season.
"The immediate future of the World Rally Championship is going to be based on this type of car, so the chance to get in one and drive it now is invaluable – nothing compares with putting competitive miles on the clock when you’re learning a new car," Rautenbach said. "At the moment, it’s a deal for the Azores, but I’m hoping I can do some more rallies beyond this one. Let’s see how this first one goes."
Rautenbach added: "I’m really grateful to everybody at PH Sport who has helped to put this deal together – and I’m really looking forward to getting into the competition in the IRC. I’ve watched with interest this year how competitive the Monte Carlo and Curitiba rallies were, so the chance to get in there and mix it with those boys is great for me."
RAPID ITALIAN BETTI PLANS IRC PROGRAMME
Luca Betti will enter four rounds of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge this season in a Peugeot 207 Super 2000 run by the new Kimera Motorsport team.
He will be co-driven by fellow Italian Giovanni Bernacchini, who has competed alongside Gigi Galli in the World Rally Championship in the past.
Betti, who has spent the last seasons in the IRC but is concentrating on the FIA European Rally Championship this season, will rejoin the series on the Belgium Ypres Rally in June. His programme also includes Rali Vinho Madeira in July, Barum Rally Zlin in Czech Republic in August and Rally Principe de Asturias in September.
The 31-year-old has experience of the IRC in a Honda Civic Type-R and 207 S2000. Before switching to the IRC in 2007, Betti competed in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship.
RALLY RUSSIA DETAILS REVEALED
Outline details of Rally Russia, which forms round six of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge from July 9-11, have been announced.
Although the rally is still three months away, organisers have already begun preparing the special stages for the event, which will again be based in the town of Vyborg.
This work has been instigated in an attempt to ensure the roads used are in the best possible condition for the rally following comments by some drivers last year that certain stages were too demanding on cars.
The major change to the itinerary this year is the moving of the ceremonial start from the city of St Petersburg’s Isaac Square to Vyborg and a new location close to the walls of the town’s ancient castle. This will make the event more compact for competitors because they will no longer have to complete a 100-kilometre journey.
The ceremony will take place at 19.00hrs on Thursday July 9. The competitive action will begin on Friday July 10 with the finish scheduled for Saturday July 11.
TICKET PRICE FREEZE FOR BELGIUM YPRES RALLY FANS
Spectators attending the Belgium Ypres Rally in June won’t be subjected to an increase in ticket prices for the Intercontinental Rally Challenge event.
As in previous years, fans will pay 30 for a ticket providing access to all special stages and the service park, which is located in the Grote Markt in the centre of Ypres and provides spectators with a unique opportunity to get close up to the competing cars and drivers.
Individual stage access tickets are available for 9 per stage with a discount of 2 offered to fans buying multiple tickets.
For 45, fans can buy a special ‚fun‘ package, which includes access to all stages, an official rally programme, cap and gift.
A spokesperson for the event said: "The good news in these economically challenging times is that the organisers of the Belgium Ypres Rally have managed to keep the prices the same as before."
The Belgium Ypres Rally has been included on the IRC schedule since 2006. It remains one of the highlights of the calendar and runs entirely on Tarmac with stages easy accessible from the historic town.
This year’s event takes place from June 18-20 and forms the fifth round of the IRC.