Exciting entry for Sata Rallye Acores


More than 40 crews will contest Sata Rallye Acores, round six of the
Intercontinental Rally Challenge, from 14-16 July.
Eight Super 2000 cars will be in action with Bryan Bouffier topping
the entry in his Peugeot France-backed 207. The Rallye Monte-Carlo
winner forms part of the three-strong Peugeot attack on the all-gravel
event, which also includes Peugeot UK’s Guy Wilks and Peugeot
Sport Portugal’s Bruno Magalahes, who claimed a dramatic
final-stage victory on the rally in 2010.
Defending IRC champion Juho Hanninen is one of four SKODA Fabia S2000
drivers competing on the Atlantic archipelago. His factory SKODA
Motorsport team-mate Jan Kopecky will also be in taking part at the
wheel of another Fabia S2000, as will SKODA UK Motorsport’s
Andreas Mikkelsen and SKODA Sweden’s Patrik Sandell. Frenchman
Julien Maurin will pilot the sole M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 on the
Toshi Arai and Fumio Nutahara head the Yokohama-supported Subaru
challenge in a brace of R4-specification Imprezas. As well as aiming
to claim their first IRC points of the season, the Japanese drivers
will be favourites for the IRC Production Cup laurels, where Azores
resident Ricardo Moura is set to provide strong opposition in his
Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX.
The IRC 2WD Cup has attracted an impressive entry with series’
leader Jean-Michel Raoux and defending class champion Harry Hunt among
the contenders for victory. A copy of the full entry list is available
at www.rally-irc.com. 
Italian victory boosts Mikkelsen for Azores
Andreas Mikkelsen’s SKODA UK Motorsport team boss Pierfrancesco
Zanchi reckons his driver’s victory on Rally di San Marino last
weekend will hand him a major boost as he prepares to tackle Sata
Rallye Acores for a second time next week.
Mikkelsen, who was competing on the Italian Gravel Trophy round in a
SKODA Rally Team Italia Fabia Super 2000, similar to the one he uses
in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, finished fourth in the Azores
last season in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000.
“We needed to win in San Marino and that’s exactly what
we did,” said Zanchi. “We are pleased to be leading the
[Italian Gravel] championship and are very confident ahead of Sata
Rallye Acores.”
Of his victory on the gravel stages in and around San Marino,
Mikkelsen said: “The strategy was to take a lead and maintain it
carefully. We watched our competitors and maintained a comfortable
lead without pushing so hard that we made errors.”
Mikkelsen, from Norway, is seventh in the IRC drivers’
standings after five rounds. 
Peugeot UK keen on more IRC action in 2012
Peugeot UK could continue its participation in the Intercontinental
Rally Challenge for a fourth season in 2012.
The importer began its involvement in the series in 2009 when it
backed Kris Meeke’s IRC title triumph in a 207 Super 2000 run by
the Belgian Kronos Racing operation.
Meeke was third in 2010 before he handed over the reins to countryman
Guy Wilks, who is embarking on a full programme of IRC events this
season alongside co-driver Phil Pugh.
A spokesperson for Peugeot UK said: “Nothing is decided and
it’s really far too early to be making any decisions because
it’s something we tend to do when we have our budget meetings in
September. But we’re really pleased with the IRC programme. For
sure we’d like to be winning but we also have to be realistic
because it’s a very competitive championship. The dealer network
interest [in the UK] has been brilliant, much more so than when we
started in 2009. They’re really behind the project and Peugeot
Sport is too. We like the IRC and we hope to be here next year."
Wilks is sixth in the IRC drivers’ table following his run to
fifth on last month’s GEKO Ypres Rally. The 30-year-old’s
best result this season was his third place on Rallye Monte-Carlo in
Mecsek Rallye plans take shape
The Mecsek Rallye, which joins the Intercontinental Rally Challenge
schedule for the first time this season, is set to be another
successful addition to the all-action series.
That’s the view of IRC Motorsport Development Manager
Jean-Pierre Nicolas and IRC General Co-ordinator Xavier Gavory, who
visited the event’s base in the Hungarian city of Pecs last
month to meet officials from the rally and visit the stages and
various facilities.
“The stages are incredible and a good mixture of layouts and
surfaces,” said Nicolas, a former international-level rally
driver. “In some places they are like the old Nurburgring race
circuit in Germany, but in other places quite wide. They will be a
good challenge for the drivers.”
Gavory added: “The rally was assessed last year and the
organisers did a very good job then. They will benefit from the
infrastructure put in place when Pecs became European Capital of
Culture in 2010. We saw a number of impressive sites including a new
service park area.”
The 45th running of the Mecsek Rallye takes place from 9-11
September. More information will be available soon on the
event’s official website, www.mecsekrallye.hu.

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