Thierry Neuville has claimed his maiden victory in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge after
winning Tour de Corse-E.Leclerc, which finished in Ajaccio this evening (Saturday).
Co-driven by Nicolas Gilsoul in a Team Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg 207 Super 2000, Neuville
belied his 22 years to triumph on one of the world’s most legendary and demanding events, billed
locally as the Return of the Myth.
In the process he becomes the youngest winner in the five-year history of the IRC, beating the
record set by Anton Alen, who was 24 when he won Rally Russia in 2007.
Neuville started day three, the longest of the asphalt rally at 138.44 kilometres, with an overnight
advantage of 23.4s. Although he dropped precious seconds on the opening stage after reporting a
slight lack of handling precision due to his decision to carry two spare tyres, he hit back with the
fastest time on the next three sun-baked stages, which was enough to put him out of reach of the
chasing pack.
Jan Kopecky narrowed Neuville’s lead to 14.5s after winning Saturday’s first stage, by making the
most of the smoother and wider roads on day three, as well as benefitting from changes to his
car’s rear differential settings and overall balance. Although he posted a series of top two stage
times thereafter he wasn’t able to dislodge Neuville from first place and took the runner-up spot for
the second rally in a row in his Skoda Motorsport Fabia S2000.
Freddy Loix finished third in his BFO Skoda Rally Team Fabia to move five points clear in the race
for the IRC drivers’ title. However, the Belgian conceded that he didn’t have the “right feeling” with
his car to challenge for a seventh IRC career victory.
In fact Loix had trailed Andreas Mikkelsen in fourth place, only for the young Norwegian to pick up
a front-right puncture on stage 12 and drop more than three minutes after delays replacing the
damaged tyre, which promoted Loix to third as a result.
Mikkelsen, whose Skoda UK Motorsport mechanics had completed an extensive overhaul of his
Fabia at midday service including fitting a replacement gearbox, driveshafts, propshaft and
steering following a torque link bolt failure on stage 10, was on course for his first podium of 2011
had he not hit trouble.
“I’ve never been so disappointed on a rally as I am now,” said the 21-year-old, who eventually took
sixth place by winning the event-closing special stage. “We were taking the same lines as before
and driving at the same speed. Suddenly I could feel there was no air in the front-right tyre [even
though] we hadn’t hit anything.”
Peugeot France’s Bryan Bouffier, who briefly led on Friday morning only to drop back with a
puncture, began the final day in sixth overall but fought his way to fourth with a succession of
impressive stage times. However, his challenge came unstuck when he crashed out on the final

Pierre Campana set the second fastest time on Saturday’s opening test in his
Munaretto Peugeot. But after losing ground on the next stage with an intercom
glitch, the Corsican elected to focus on preserving a strong finish on his home
rally, rather than risk going off the road on his first appearance in the IRC in a
Super 2000 car. However, a front-right puncture five kilometres into the final
stage looked to have scuppered those hopes. But with Bouffier crashing,
Campana was able to clinch a hugely impressive fourth.
Frenchman Julien Maurin overcame brake and tyre wear problems to secure his first IRC points
aboard his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 in a strong seventh overall. Brake problems also slowed
Bruno Magalhaes on day two but the Peugeot Sport Portugal ace was able to improve his
confidence behind the wheel as the event progressed to clinch a solid fifth.
Finn Toni Gardemeister, in a TGS Worldwide Skoda Fabia, scored points for the third event
running in eighth, having spent much of the event experimenting with different set-up options. The
Finn had to limp through the final stage with a broken gearbox. Patrik Sandell took ninth on his IRC
debut with Skoda Sweden with Corsican Jean-Mathieu Leandri fighting back from a front-right
puncture on stage nine to clinch the final point.
Sandell, a favourite for a podium finish before the start, was never able to find an optimum set-up
although his efforts weren’t helped by a broken rear differential on Saturday morning. He also
admitted to struggling to adapt to the tight and twisty Corsican stages. He started the final day in
11th but snatched two championship points.
Toshi Arai brought Subaru’s R4-specification Impreza to the finish in 13th overall on its first
competitive outing. Florian Gonon landed IRC Production Cup honours in his N4 Impreza with
Corsican Pierre-Antoine Guglielmi winning the IRC 2WD Cup in a Clio R3.
Guy Wilks slid off the road from third overall on Saturday’s second stage, where the Peugeot UK
driver remained stranded. Saudi Arabian Yazeed Al Rajhi, in a Kronos Racing 207, finished an
encouraging 14th on only his third asphalt rally.
Thierry Neuville (Belgium), Peugeot 207 S2000, first overall: “This is an incredible result after
such a long rally. I never imagined I could win in the IRC so soon and never dreamed that I would
win here in Corsica. But Nicolas and I have done a great job together and the car has always been
good. I’m very happy.”
Jan Kopecky (Czech Republic), Skoda Fabia S2000, second overall: “Of course I am happy to
be on the podium because that’s good for the championship. It’s been a difficult rally and I was not
always happy with the set-up. But I am pleased to be at the finish.”
Freddy Loix (Belgium), Skoda Fabia S2000, third overall: “The others were too quick for me so
I played the championship card this weekend. I don’t know why but I did not have the right feeling
on this rally. It was nothing wrong with the car but I couldn’t battle for the win.”

1 Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Peugeot 207 S2000 3h20m51.0s
2 Jan Kopecky (CZE)/Petr Stary (CZE) Skoda Fabia S2000 +15.5s
3 Freddy Loix (BEL)/Frederic Miclotte (BEL) Skoda Fabia S2000 +1m02.6s
4 Pierre Campana (FRA)/Sabrina de Castelli (FRA) Peugeot 207 S2000 +3m59.1s
5 Bruno Magalhaes (POR)/Paulo Grave (POR) Peugeot 207 S2000 +4m28.2s
6 Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Ola Floene (NOR) Skoda Fabia S2000 +4m30.1s
7 Julien Maurin (FRA)/Olivier Ural (FRA) M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 +4m33.3s
8 Toni Gardemeister (FIN)/Tapio Suominen (FIN) Skoda Fabia S2000 +6m33.3s
9 Patrik Sandell (SW)/Staffan Parmander (SWE) Skoda Fabia S2000 +8m28.8s
10 Jean-Mathieu Leandri (FRA)/Pierre Marien Leonardi (FRA) Peugeot 207 S2000 +9m41.5s
IRC Production Cup: Florian Gonon (SUI)/Sandra Arlettaz (SUI) Subaru Impreza WRX
IRC 2WD Cup: Pierre-Antoine Guglielmi (FRA)/Jean-Francois Porcu (FRA) Renault Clio R3
Drivers after round three of 12
1 Freddy Loix (Belgium) 45pts
2 Jan Kopecky (Czech Republic) 40pts
= Thierry Neuville (Belgium) 40pts
4 Juho Hanninen (Finland) 33pts
5 Bryan Bouffier (France) 31pts
6 Guy Wilks (United Kingdom) 25pts
7 Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) 16pts
8 Bruno Magalhaes (Portugal) 14pts
9 Pierre Campana (France) 12pts
= Stephane Sarrazin (France) 12pts
Manufacturers after round three of 12
1 Skoda 106pts
2 Peugeot 104pts
3 Subaru 32pts
4 M-Sport 23pts
5 PROTON 16pts
6 Honda 12pts
7 Ralliart 6pts
8 Abarth 4pts
IRC Production Cup after round three of 12
1 Florian Gonon (Switzerland) 50pts
2 Jose Barrios (Spain) 25pts
3 Vojtech Stajf (Czech Republic) 18pts
4 Giacomo Ogliari (Italy) 15pts
5 Maurizio Verini (Italy) 12pts etc
IRC 2WD Cup drivers after round three of 12
1 Pierre Campana (France) 25pts
= Pierre-Antoine Guglielmi (France) 25pts
= Joan Vinyes (Spain) 25pts
4 Gorka Antxustegi (Spain) 18pts
= Michael Burri (Switzerland) 18pts

Guy Fiori (France) 18pts
7 Harry Hunt (United Kingdom) 16pts
8 Stefano Albertini (Italy) 15pts
= Renaud Poutot (France) 15pts
= Angel Marrero (Spain) 15pts etc
IRC 2WD Cup manufacturers after round three of 12
1 Peugeot 90pts
2 Honda 67pts
3 Abarth 58pts
4 M-Sport 33pts
SS1-3: Thierry Neuville
SS4: Bryan Bouffier
SS5-14: Thierry Neuville
Day one (Thursday 12 May):
SS1: Le Fangu – Notre Dame de la Serra (27.53kms): Thierry Neuville
SS2: Le Fangu – Notre Dame de la Serra (27.53kms): Thierry Neuville
Day two (Friday 13 May):
SS3: Erbajolo-Pont d’Altiani (25.15kms): Guy Wilks
SS4: Barchetta-La Porta (23.26kms): Bryan Bouffier
SS5: Taverna-Pont de Castirla (15.28kms): Thierry Neuville
SS6: Barchetta-La Porta (23.26kms): Jan Kopecky
SS7: Taverna-Pont de Castirla (15.28kms): Thierry Neuville
SS8: Erbajolo-Pont d’Altiani (25.15kms): Thierry Neuville
Day three (Saturday 14 May):
SS9: Sarrola-Plage du Liamone (26.70kms): Jan Kopecky
SS10: Marato-Acqua Doria (22.47kms): Thierry Neuville
SS11: Bocognano-Bastelica (20.05kms): Thierry Neuville
SS12: Marato-Acqua Doria (22:47kms): Thierry Neuville
SS13: Bocognano-Bastelica (20.05kms): Jan Kopecky
SS14: Sarrola-Plage du Liamone (26.70kms): Andreas Mikkelsen
IRC rally wins in 2011 (drivers)
Bryan Bouffier: 1
Juho Hanninen: 1
Thierry Neuville: 1
IRC rally wins in 2011 (manufacturers)
Peugeot: 2
Skoda: 1

IRC stage wins in 2011 (drivers)
Jan Kopecky: 8
Thierry Neuville: 8
Juho Hanninen: 7
Stephane Sarrazin: 4
Bryan Bouffier: 3
Guy Wilks: 3
Giandomenico Basso: 1
Francois Delecour: 1
Freddy Loix: 1
Andreas Mikkelsen: 1
Nicolas Vouilloz: 1
Stage wins in 2011 (manufacturers)
Peugeot: 20
Skoda: 18
Highlights of Tour de Corse-E.Leclerc will be shown on Sunday 15 May as follows:
22:15-22:40: Magazine – Rally Review (Eurosport)
22:30-23:00: Magazine – Rally Review (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
23:00-23:25: Magazine – Rally Review (Eurosport France)
Daily highlights are also available at and via the IRC iPhone and iPad App. All
times are CET.

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