The prospects for Rallye Sanremo, round 10 of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, are mouth-watering after entries for the Italian event peaked at more than 90 cars.
In addition to the Skoda Motorsport trio of Juho Hanninen, Jan Kopecky and Freddy Loix, Skoda UK Motorsport will enter a Fabia S2000 for Guy Wilks, while Skoda Italia will be represented by Marco Signor.
The Peugeot challenge will be led by defending IRC champion and last year’s Rallye Sanremo winner Kris Meeke. Italian ace Paolo Andreucci, runner-up to Hanninen on Rally d’Italia-Sardegna in June, and Frenchman Bryan Bouffier will also be at the wheel of a 207 S2000s as will Bruno Magalhaes, who returns to IRC action after skipping last month’s Barum Czech Rally Zlin.
Giandomenico Basso heads the Abarth line-up, which also includes four-time IRC event winner Luca Rossetti. PROTON will field Niall McShea in one of its Satria Neo S2000s and will reveal the identity of its second driver tomorrow (Friday).
Several M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000s will also be in action with Andreas Mikkelsen and former IRC regular Andrea Navarra among those driving the new-for-2010 cars.
Meeke eager for wins in Sanremo and Scotland
Kris Meeke has vowed to do all he can to win the Intercontinental Rally Challenge events in Sanremo and Scotland, even though his hopes of defending his IRC Drivers‘ title are all but over.
The Peugeot UK pilot set the pace on both events last season, but was ultimately stripped of his RACMSA Rally of Scotland victory following post-event eligibility checks.
He now hopes to end an, at times, frustrating campaign by adding to his tally of IRC wins starting with a second straight victory on the all-asphalt Italian event, which runs from 23-25 September.
"It’s fair to say it hasn’t gone as smoothly this year as it did last year but it hasn’t taken away my desire to start every event trying to achieve the maximum," said Meeke. "I want to finish this year on a high and do the best we can and to win in both Sanremo and Scotland will be special."
Live Eurosport coverage for Rally of Scotland
During a press conference at Gleneagles in Perthshire, Scotland, yesterday (15 September) Eurosport Events confirmed extensive live television coverage of RACMSA Rally of Scotland, the penultimate round of the 2010 IRC season from 15-17 October.
The promoter’s international media partner Eurosport, Europe’s largest television sports channel, will broadcast live the two passes through the 17.68-kilometre Errochty stage at 11:00hrs-12:00hrs and 17:30hrs-18:30hrs CET on Saturday 16 October and the two runs through the Loch Ard stage, which measures 29.04 kilometres on Sunday 17 October at 11:00hrs-12:00hrs and 13:45hrs-15:00hrs CET.
In addition, Eurosport will also show its Rally Magazine review programme at 23:00hrs-24:00hrs CET on Tuesday 19 October. Eurosport’s Asia-Pacific platform will show the second Errochty stage live plus slightly delayed coverage of other stage action.
Between its various platforms, Eurosport will devote approximately 15 hours of coverage to the event through its live coverage and replayed highlights thereby further underlining its commitment to the IRC and Rally of Scotland.
Scotland organisers in call for volunteers
RACMSA Rally of Scotland organisers are calling on volunteers to help with the smooth running of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge event, which takes place from 15-17 October.
More than 750 volunteer marshals are required to support the Perth-based event and Clerk of the Course Iain Campbell explained the rally could not run without their assistance.
"Quite simply without the volunteer marshals we do not have an event," said Campbell. "We rely on their expertise to provide radio cover, to run the time controls, to man the stages, look after the service park and to set up each of our stunning venues. In return they get as close to the action as possible and take away the satisfaction of being part of a huge event."
Guy Wilks, who won the inaugural Rally of Scotland in 2009, is backing the recruitment drive. He said: "What rally marshals do is fantastic and there is no better example of this than on last year’s Rally of Scotland. The marshals who stood out in the awful weather and did such a professional job with such good humour made a huge difference."
More information is available at www.rallyofscotland.com.
No entry fee payable for Monte Carlo crews
The Automobile Club de Monaco has announced that entry fees for the 79th Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo from 19-21 January, 2011, will be free of charge for all 100 competitors that are accepted for the opening round of next season’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
As part of the celebrations for the event’s centenary, the ACM has decided to offer this exceptional incentive to encourage amateur drivers to register.
"Today we are very happy to confirm that entry fees will be waived," said René Isoart, the ACM General Commissioner. "Our aim is to encourage many amateur drivers to return and participate in the Monte Carlo Rally. They are the bedrock on which this event and its history have been built. We will soon be announcing further initiatives to encourage amateurs."
The final route of the 79th running of the rally has also been drawn up and is based entirely on historical routes with famous locations selected from the rally’s earliest days.
Al Qassimi considers Golden Stage entry
Khalid Al Qassimi, a former Middle East rally champion, is considering entering the Golden Stage Rally, which takes place in Cyprus on 7 November.
Featuring a single 25-kilometre mixed-surface stage run twice, the Golden Stage, the event is scheduled for the day after the Intercontinental Rally Challenge season concludes with the FxPro Cyprus Rally (4-6 November).
As well as counting for IRC points, the Cyprus Rally is a scoring round of the Middle East championship and a large contingent of crews from the regional series could also tackle the Golden Stage Rally, which is open to all teams and drivers competing with Super 2000, Group N and Group A (up to A7) cars, in both two- and four-wheel drive configuration..
"Nothing is decided but it’s something we are looking at," said Abu Dhabi driver Al Qassimi, who campaigns an M-Sport Ford Fiesta Super 2000 in the Middle East championship. "I’ve never been to and IRC event before so it will be interesting to see what happens. If the timings work out it could be possible."