Burcu Cetinkaya will become the first female driver to contest an expanded programme of Intercontinental Rally Challenge events when she starts her IRC campaign on Rally d’Italia-Sardegna from 4-6 June.
Cetinkaya, from Istanbul, will drive a Peugeot 207 Super 2000 with support from Turkey’s Peugeot importer. She will also contest the asphalt rounds in Ypres, Madeira and Zlin; the gravel events in Azores and Scotland, and the mixed-surface Rallye Sanremo. A decision on whether or not she competes on the Cyprus Rally, the IRC’s other asphalt/gravel event, will be taken in late August. Cicek Guney will continue in her role as Cetinkaya’s navigator.
"To drive a Super 2000 car has been my dream and the Peugeot has been a very successful car in the IRC for the last few seasons so it is a good choice," said Cetinkaya, 29. "Also, the support and coverage Eurosport gives to the IRC is very good and very important for my sponsors. It’s one of the main reasons why I chose the IRC."
Cetinkaya is no stranger to IRC competition having contested the Geko Ypres Rally and Barum Czech Rally Zlin in the past.
She is planning to test on gravel and Tarmac in the coming months in preparation for her IRC bid.
Loix targets wins on IRC return
Freddy Loix will go all out to chase event wins when he returns to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge on the Geko Ypres Rally in Belgium this summer.
The 39-year-old has won the asphalt rally on five previous occasions. Because his IRC campaign will be limited to four events, Loix has ruled out a title bid and will instead chase outright wins in his BFO-Skoda Rally Team Fabia S2000, starting on home soil from 24-26 June.
"Because I’m only doing four IRC rounds I can’t think about the title so my priority will be rally wins," said Loix, who has scored a total of three IRC event wins during his career. "I am very excited about returning to the IRC and I’ve been told the Skoda Fabia is very easy to drive."
In addition to tackling the Ypres Rally, Loix will also compete on the IRC rounds in Zlin and Sanremo. A fourth event will be added to his schedule although a decision on what rally this will be has yet to be taken.
Canarias entry important for IRC title hopes, says Skoda UK
Skoda UK Motorsport team manager Pierfrancesco Zanchi has said entering Rally Islas Canarias later this month is important if Guy Wilks is going to maintain his bid for the Intercontinental Rally Challenge title.
Wilks is second in the IRC drivers‘ standings after scoring a brace of podium finishes on last month’s double-header in South America. Earlier this week, his team confirmed it would be entering a Fabia S2000 for Wilks and regular co-driver Phil Pugh.
Zanchi said: "We have made a good start to the IRC and after three strong points-scoring finishes we are second in the drivers‘ standings. When Rally Islas Canarias was announced as the fourth round of the series, we felt it important for us to contest it as it will enable us to try and maintain our strong championship position and stay in the game."
Circuit of Ireland promises to be spectacular
Organisers of this weekend’s Circuit of Ireland, the first IRC Supporter Event to run in 2010, are promising plenty of spectacular action for drivers and spectators alike.
Based in the town of Newry in Northern Ireland, the all-Tarmac rally will feature stages on both sides of the border with the Republic of Ireland when it runs from 3/4 April.
Bobby Willis, the event director, said: "It’s going to be a great battle throughout the field, we’ve got a great entry and we’re braced for many thousands of spectators. Like all rallies in Ireland, it’s going to be a real challenge because Irish roads aren’t like normal Tarmac stages in that they’re twisty, bumpy and narrow."
Craig Breen, one of the likely frontrunners in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000, said: "Ask anyone to name a rally in Ireland and they’ll say the Circuit of Ireland because there’s so much history and heritage attached to the event. It’s an honour to be taking part."