RALLY OF SCOTLAND BOSSES PROUD OF IRC DEBUT … AND OTHER NEWS FROM THE IRC
Organisers of RACMSA Rally of Scotland believe they have a lot to be proud about after the country hosted its first Intercontinental Rally Challenge event earlier this month.
The gravel rally, which enjoyed live television coverage on Eurosport, brought the curtain down on the IRC season and received glowing praise from competitors.
Iain Campbell, the clerk of the course, said: "It’s been a team that has put this all together and I’m proud of the whole team. It’s been a steep learning curve but all stages started on time despite the difficult weather conditions. Also, the battle for the lead was nip and tuck to the finish and that made it very exciting."
Rally of Scotland will return to the IRC calendar in 2010 when it forms the 11th and penultimate round of the series from October 14-16. Before then, Campbell plans to have introduced several improvements.
"We’re looking mainly for sunshine but we will be making some tweaks to the format," he said.
WILKS DECLARED SCOTTISH WINNER
Skoda UK driver Guy Wilks has been declared the winner of the Rally of Scotland after a stewards‘ hearing found that the front subframe of Kris Meeke’s Peugeot 207 S2000 was 150 grams lighter than it should have been. There was however no intention to break the rules on Peugeot’s part, as Meeke’s car was actually heavier than the Skoda when it was weighed prior to the rally start.
Peugeot Sport director Olivier Quesnel stated: "We acknowledge the stewards‘ decision. We’re responsible for what happened, but not guilty of anything. This was down to an administrative mistake, which we intend to rectify. The mistake had no influence on the performance of the 207 Super 2000 and we must apologise to Kris Meeke, whose talent and championship title this year are beyond question."
INDYCAR STAR FRANCHITTI SAVOURS RIDE WITH IRC CHAMPION
Kris Meeke interrupted his preparations for RACMSA Rally of Scotland by giving his friend, the IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti, a high-speed ride in his Peugeot 207 Super 2000.
Meeke, who clinched the Intercontinental Rally Challenge drivers‘ crown earlier this season, was testing for the IRC season finale at a site close to where Franchitti owns a house.
"I know Dario from my days when Colin McRae was helping me," said Meeke. "I got chatting to him recently and found out the test was two miles from his home so I invited him along and he had two runs in the car later in the day. It was dark and the stage we were using in the forest was slippery but I think he enjoyed the experience."
Franchitti’s younger brother Marino was among a 3,500-strong crowd for the event’s opening superspecial stages at Scone Palace near Perth, where Meeke set the fastest time on both runs.
PROTON TEAM PLANS TWO-CAR IRC ASSAULT
The British-based works Proton squad is set to field a two-car team in next year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
With backing from the Malaysian car giant, the team made its IRC debut on the Belgium Ypres Rally last June. Although it expanded to running two cars on Barum Czech Rally Zlin in August, it concentrated on fielding a single entry on all other events it has contested.
"Next year is going to be a busy year for us with two cars in the IRC," said team principal Chris Mellors.
Alister McRae, who scored Proton’s first IRC podium on Rally of Scotland, is likely to continue with the team in 2010 although several other drivers are also under consideration.
"We hope Alister will be involved with the programme next year but there are a lot of drivers we’re talking to," said Mellors. "We’re going to be testing the car in December with some very interesting people. We’re very excited."
KOITLA AIMS FOR MORE IRC OUTINGS IN 2010
Kaspar Koitla celebrated finishing third in the final IRC 2WD Cup standings by revealing plans to contest more rounds of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge next season.
The Estonian driver took his Honda Civic Type-R to the 2WD category laurels in sixth overall on RACMSA Rally of Scotland earlier this month. He now wants to return to the series in 2010.
"I came to Scotland to try to finish third in the IRC 2WD Cup and I achieved my objective by winning," said Koitla. "It was my first time in the UK so I am very pleased because it was a difficult rally. It is all down to finding the sponsorship but I would like to do some more rallies in the IRC next year and come back to Scotland."
Koitla, 20, won the 2WD Cup on Rally Russia in July. He finished third behind Denis Millet and Manuel Villa in the final standings.
COUNTDOWN TO MONTE CARLO: MINUS 53 DAYS
With less than two months to go before the start of the Monte Carlo Rally, the opening round of the IRC next year, preparations are well underway.
With entries open since November 16, the first competitors are already adding their names to the entry list. The recce for the event will take place from Saturday 16 January to Monday 18 January, allowing teams to concentrate the whole rally within a week. The rally’s ceremonial start will take place at 17:00 on Tuesday 19 January, at the Champs de Mars in Valence.
Entry fees for amateur drivers remain unchanged from last year and competitors will be able to supply their own tyres and fuel. For more information, please visit www.acm.mc