Paolo Andreucci fears that his knowledge of the stages won’t be enough to stave off the threat posed by the Intercontinental Rally Challenge regulars on Rally d’Italia-Sardegna next week.
Andreucci will drive a Peugeot Sport Italia 207 Super 2000 on the gravel event, round five of the 12-event IRC series, where his main opposition will include factory Skoda drivers Juho Hanninen and Jan Kopecky, plus fellow Peugeot runners Kris Meeke and Sebastien Ogier.
"I’m really excited by this rally, but I know that it’s going to be very tough as there will be so many good drivers," said the four-time Italian rally champion, who will be starting his first IRC event of 2010. "For me, to be honest, I think a podium will be difficult. But I would like to finish in the top five though and that is what I will be aiming for."
The 45-year-old continued: "I know some of the stages well and some I don’t know at all. The stages I know I like a lot: they are very tricky though, because there are lots of little things that can catch you out. I’ve done the [Sardinia-based] Costa Smeralda Rally every year, but I haven’t done the WRC event stages since 2004, when I did the rally in a Super 1600 Punto."
Pugh ready for Sardinia after China rally win
Phil Pugh took a break from his co-driving duties alongside Guy Wilks in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge to win the latest round of the Chinese championship, which he said was the perfect preparation for Rally d’Italia-Sardegna next week.
Pugh partnered fellow Briton Mark Higgins to victory on the Jiangning Rally in a Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. After returning to his home in Wales, Pugh said the trip to the Far East had been extremely beneficial.
"It was the first time I had done a rally in China and it was my first time with Mark so there was a lot to take on board," said Pugh. "Not only was it a good feeling to win but it’s definitely made me more on the ball for Sardinia because there was some good competition out in China and Mark uses a different pacenote system to Guy."
Pugh will be reunited with Wilks on the fifth round of the IRC in Sardinia. Before the event gets underway on 4 June, Wilks and Pugh will undertake a test on Monday (31 May) in their Skoda UK Motorsport Fabia S2000.
Ypres organisers target 30 Super 2000 cars
Organisers of the Geko Ypres Rally, round six of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge from 24-26 June, are hopeful of attracting 30 Super 2000 cars for the asphalt event.
With a little more than two weeks to go until entries close for the 46th running of the rally, event manager Alain Penasse has confirmed there are already 27 S2000 cars on the provisional list of registrations with more in the pipeline.
"There is huge interest and it’s high quality also, which makes this a very exciting rally," said Penasse. "We have 27 Super 2000 cars and we’d very much like to breach the barrier of 30 cars, which would be the first time a rally has achieved that."
So far, 76 crews have entered the Belgian event, which can accommodate a total of 90 cars. Entries close at 24:00hrs on 11 June and organisers are urging competitors not to delay submitting their registrations based on the high level of interest.
New base for RACMSA Rally of Scotland
RACMSA Rally of Scotland will be based in the city of Perth when it runs for a second time from 15-17 October.
The penultimate round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge operated from Stirling last season but will now be housed at Perth Airport, where the event headquarters and main service park will also be located.
As in 2009, the event will get underway with two stages in the grounds of Scone Palace in the outskirts of Perth on the evening of Friday 15 October. In addition to two passes through the Craigvinean stage, Saturday’s opening leg will feature two runs through the Drummond Hill and Errochty tests, which were both used just once last year.
Sunday’s route takes in two passes of the Achray and Loch Ard stages split by a remote service halt in Callander. Loch Ard is the rally’s longest stage at 33.52 kilometres. The event’s total competitive distance is 208.08 kilometres.
Stirling will still play an active role in the rally as the host of the ceremonial finish on the evening of Sunday 17 October.