Juho Hanninen admits his impressive start to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge season has put him in a strong position to win the coveted drivers‘ crown.
Hanninen, from Finland, moved into a seven-point title lead following his second-place finish on Rally Islas Canarias last week.
The factory Skoda Motorsport driver has finished in the podium on the first four IRC events of the season and won Rally Argentina back in March.
He said: "We have a good situation with the points but I don’t think so much to that because there is still a long way to go until the end of the season. We have more points now than we did for all of 2009 but we still have to think rally by rally and not get carried away."
Hanninen also pointed to the threat defending IRC champion Kris Meeke posed, adding: "Okay he is far behind in the points but we know how fast he is and I believe he will be strong by the end of the year."
Magalhaes satisfied with Canarias performance
Bruno Magalhaes says he was satisfied with his run to fifth overall on Rally Islas Canarias last week, a result that extends his point-scoring sequence to four consecutive Intercontinental Rally Challenge events.
Magalhaes was fourth heading into the final stage of the event but fell behind the rapid Kris Meeke at the completion of the test. However, the result was enough to elevate him to fifth in the IRC drivers‘ standings, two points behind defending champion Meeke.
"Of course I scored points but more important for me is that I proved I can fight with the faster guys," said the 29-year-old, who reported losing time early on the rally with a transmission glitch. "My car is not perfect yet because we completely destroyed the tyres on the long stage but I am satisfied with this result."
Magalhaes will return to IRC action on Rally d’Italia-Sardegna next month in his Peugeot Sport Portugal 207.
Barrios claims Subaru Individual Award
Jose Barrios has become the latest winner of the Subaru Individual Award.
The Spaniard landed the accolade following a strong performance on Rally Islas Canarias, round four of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, in his Impreza WRX last weekend.
Barrios, the only Subaru Impreza driver in action on the demanding island event, took on a host of Mitsubishi Lancer-mounted pilots and finished up as the second-best Group N finisher in ninth overall.
The Subaru Individual Award is presented on each of the 12 IRC rounds this year to the highest-placed Subaru finisher and demonstrates the support that Subaru will extend to its customer drivers in the IRC in 2010.
Swiss Olivier Burri (Monte Carlo), Juan San Martin (Curitiba) and Gabriel Pozzo (Argentina) are the other Subaru Individual Award winners so far this season.
Wilks set for Rally d’Italia-Sardegna run
Skoda UK Motorsport has confirmed it will enter Guy Wilks and co-driver Phil Pugh on Rally d’Italia-Sardegna next month.
The Italian-run team is entering the British pair on seven rounds of this year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge in a Fabia Super 2000.
Wilks said: "We’ve got to push for a win in Sardinia where I know we can be competitive. We’ve got a bit of a breather now before Sardinia, so we aim to make the most of that time to prepare well. I know in myself that I and the Fabia can gel a little bit better and better results can come. That’s what we’re aiming for."
Wilks his currently equal second in the IRC drivers‘ standings following his third consecutive podium finish of the season on Rally Islas Canarias last weekend.
Rally d’Italia-Sardegna media contact
The Intercontinental Rally Challenge resumes with Rally d’Italia-Sardegna, a new addition to the IRC calendar for 2010, from 4-6 June. Event-specific information is available from Luca Bartolini, the rally’s media officer, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Holders of a current IRC Permanent Press Credential do not need to apply for individual event accreditation.