Bruno Magalahes is closing on a deal to contest all rounds of next years Intercontinental Rally Challenge with the Peugeot Sport Portugal operation.
Carlos Barros, the teams sporting and technical director, said negotiations were underway to secure the finances needed to expand his drivers current programme of eight events in 2011.
Theres a strong possibility Bruno will do all rounds next year, said Barros. Of course we need to close the budget but things are moving in a good way. It would be a big shame if Bruno could not come back to the IRC after all the experience he has gained this year and the great job he has done. We are working very hard to make it happen because the IRC is the best championship for our team and the coverage we get has made our sponsors very happy.
Magalhaes, who returns to IRC action on Rallye Sanremo this week, has impressed throughout his maiden season in the series, winning Sata Rallye Acores in July at the wheel of his Peugeot 207 S2000. Sanremo is set to mark the last of his eight planned rallies although Barros is hopeful an agreement can be reached to allow the 30-year-old Portuguese to undertake the recces for the season closing events in Scotland and Cyprus.
Titanic Sanremo battle in store, says champion navigator
Co-driver Paul Nagle, who partnered Kris Meeke to Intercontinental Rally Challenge title glory in 2009, reckons that up to 12 drivers are capable of winning Rallye Sanremo, round 10 of the 12-event series, which gets underway in Italy tomorrow (Friday).
Speaking after completing reconnaissance for the asphalt event, Nagle said the prospects were for a very open and competitive rally after organisers attracted a record-breaking entry of 30 Super 2000 cars.
Its going to be fantastic and as many as 12 drivers are in with a shout of winning it, said Nagle, who won the event with Meeke last season to secure the IRC crown. We expect a big, big battle and its going to be fantastic for the fans. You always get huge numbers of people up in the mountains and it will be no different this year.
Nagle suggested local heroes Paolo Andreucci and Giandomenico Basso would be Peugeot UK driver Meekes toughest opponents but didnt rule out the threat posed by the Skoda Motorsport trio of Juho Hanninen, Jan Kopecky and Freddy Loix, a three-time winner this season.
Loix reunited with Miclotte for Sanremo
Freddy Loix will be reunited with regular co-driver Frederic Miclotte when he launches his audacious bid to make it four wins from four starts in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge this season on Rallye Sanremo, which starts tomorrow (Friday).
Loix, 39, took part on the Omloop van Vlaanderen rally in his native Belgium earlier this month and finished as the leading Super 2000 runner in second overall in his BFO-Skoda Rally Team Fabia. However, Miclotte was given the weekend off from co-driving duties to make way for Loixs principal sponsor Stefaan Vallaeys, who was making his competitive debut as a navigator.
It was good fun to give my sponsor the chance and that was the main reason why we did it, said Loix, whose tally of six IRC-career wins is a series record. Sometimes he got it a little bit wrong, sometimes he was also a little bit sick but, from the second day on the second run of the stages, he was much more relaxed with the pacenotes and was getting better and better and enjoying himself even more.
Driver lacking, not the car, says ace Panizzi
Three-time Rallye Sanremo winner Gilles Panizzi has played down his chances of success on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier this week but insists his pessimism has nothing to do with the level of competitiveness of his car compared to the IRC-pacesetting Skoda Fabia Super 2000.
Panizzi, who last week inked a deal to drive a PROTON Satria Neo S2000 on the asphalt event, fears his lack of recent competition experience will hold him back.
The car was actually above the level that I thought it would be with a lot of potential, said the 45-year-old legend after a two-day test in Italy earlier this week. To be honest, Im not expecting so much from my side. Its been two years since Ive driven and Im going to be surrounded by drivers who are much younger than me and with much more recent experience. If we can finish the rally and see a consistent improvement in the car and the stage times over the course of the event, then that will be a good achievement.
Official Golden Stage Rally website launched
Eurosport Events, promoter of the Golden Stage Rally, is pleased to confirm the launch of the competition’s official website, www.goldenstagerally.com.
The website has been designed to provide all the latest information on this new and innovative rally, which will be organised for the first time this year. The event, named the Love Cyprus Golden Stage Rally, carries a prize fund of 150,000 Euros and requires competitors to tackle two passes of a single mixed-surface 25-kilometre stage close to the event base in Limassol on Sunday 7 November.
As well as providing assistance to drivers and teams planning to contest the event, the website will also keep updated those fans watching the rally live on television or travelling to the island to capture the action close up.
We hope the official website will be a useful source of information for competitors and fans alike as we continue our preparations for the inaugural Love Cyprus Golden Stage Rally, said the General Co-ordinator Xavier Gavory.