Kris Meeke has refused to concede defeat in his efforts to defend his Intercontinental Rally Challenge title, vowing to hit the ground running when the series resumes on Sata Rallye Acores from 15-17 July.
The Peugeot UK driver is fifth in the drivers‘ standings, 27 points adrift of leader Juho Hanninen, following his crash on last weekend’s Geko Ypres Rally in Belgium, the third time this season that he has failed to finish an IRC qualifier due to an accident.
"It’s getting more difficult [to defend my title] and maybe we’ll have to change our approach a bit because we can’t carry on pushing to the limit in every corner and on every rally," said Meeke, who turns 31 tomorrow (Friday 2 July). "But Acores is another rally and we go there hoping to hit the ground running."
Co-driven by Paul Nagle, Meeke won Sata Rallye Acores on his first appearance on the event last season. The maximum haul of points he scored back then put him to the top of the IRC standings, where he remained for the rest of 2009.
Busy weekend in store for factory Skoda drivers
Skoda Motorsport drivers Juho Hanninen and Jan Kopecky are braced for busy weekends, even though the next round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge is more than two weeks away.
Hanninen, the current IRC series leader, is contesting Rally Bohemia in Czech Republic, while team-mate Kopecky is taking part on Rally di San Marino, round four of the Italian Rally Championship.
Rally Bohemia, which forms part of the Czech Rally Championship, takes on added significance for Skoda. Not only is the rally centred in Mlada Boleslav, where Skoda is based, but the event will also mark the first time the new Fabia Super 2000 Facelift has competed in the Czech Republic following its debut victory in the hands of Freddy Loix on the Geko Ypres Rally last weekend.
Pavel Valousek, the current Czech championship leader, will also be at the wheel of a factory-supported Fabia S2000 Facelift on Rally Bohemia, albeit run under the Skoda Delimax banner.
Loix, meanwhile, is heading to the UK for the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed this weekend, where he will be demonstrating a Fabia S2000.
Nicolas calls on IRC community to support Colin McRae Vision
Jean-Pierre Nicolas, the Intercontinental Rally Challenge Motorsport Development Manager, has called on the IRC community to help support the work of Colin McRae Vision, which announced an official partnership with the IRC prior to the Geko Ypres Rally in Belgium last week.
Colin McRae Vision was established following the accident which claimed the lives of rally legend Colin McRae, his five-year-old son Johnny, and two family friends in September 2007, to improve health and education for children around the world. The relationship with the IRC will support charities and good causes that help young people living close to the route of IRC events.
Nicolas said: "We invite all the IRC community to join us, to give some new ideas for this project and to help raise some money for the charity to improve health and education of children."
IRC champion Kris Meeke, a former protégé of McRae and an ambassador of Colin McRae Vision, added: "It’s fantastic to be able to use his popularity to give something back to the communities where the rallies go to and all credit to the McRae family and everyone who has come up with this idea. It can only go from strength to strength."
Gonon clinches Subaru Individual Award in Ypres
Florian Gonon’s run to 16th overall on last weekend’s Geko Ypres Rally has earned him the latest Subaru Individual Award.
Swiss champion Gonon, who was driving an Impreza for the Annie Spiers Rallye Team, was making his Ypres debut and his first appearance in this year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
"The more confident we got the more our times came down," said the 34-year-old. "We struggled on the first day with a few technical issues but I was very pleased with my result and really enjoyed the atmosphere of the event."
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 is extending to its customer drivers in the IRC in 2010.
Swiss Olivier Burri (Monte Carlo), Juan San Martin (Curitiba), Gabriel Pozzo (Argentina), Jose Barrios (Canary Islands) and Teemu Arminen (Sardinia) are the other Subaru Individual Award winners so far this season.
It is with regret that we advise of the passing of photographer Lino Vanelli, who was a founding member of the respected PHOTO 4 agency 35 years ago, and formed part of the official IRC photography team since the start of the series back in 2007. Lino was a popular member of the IRC community and covered rallies throughout the world. He was 62.