Street stage confirmed for 2012 IRC opener


The 2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge will get off to a
spectacular start with a street stage on Sata Rallye Acores, the
opening round of the 13-event all-action series.
Scheduled for 2200hrs on Wednesday 22 February, the City Stage in
Ponta Delgada will be compulsory for all IRC crews even though it
won’t form part of the competitive itinerary.
Drivers and co-drivers will carry out reconnaissance of the stage
from 1830hrs on the Wednesday prior to the official crew presentation
to members of the public at the Praca Goncalo Velho from 2100hs. The
short stage will begin on Ponta Delgada’s seafront on the corner
adjacent to the presentation podium. Crews will tackle the stage in
two-minute intervals.
Hunt choses IRC for 2012 action
British driver Harry Hunt is planning an audacious bid to reclaim the
IRC 2WD Cup crown he lost last season by contesting all 13 rounds of
this year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
The 23-year-old from London won the IRC 2WD Cup in 2010 driving an
M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2 but spent last season acclimatising to his new
Citroen DS3 R3T. He has decided to return to the IRC this year due to
the intense nature of the competition on offer.
“We took a really huge step up in 2011 and it took a while to
learn how to get the best from the car,” said Hunt, who will
continue to be co-driven by Robbie Durant. “With a second season
in the car, coming back to some of the rallies we know plus
also learning new events against strong local opposition, we should be
able to get closer to the limit of our potential.”
Austrian one-two thrills SKODA chief
SKODA Motorsport boss Michal Hrabanek has praised his factory drivers
Jan Kopecky and Juho Hanninen following their one-two finish on the
Janner Rallye in Austria last weekend.
The event, a counting round of the Austrian, Czech and European
championships, took place in difficult wintry weather conditions with
snow and ice coating the bulk of the asphalt stages around the town of
Friestadt near Linz.
Kopecky won the event with Hanninen, the 2010 IRC champion, second
after dropping time cleaning a line through the loose-surface snow on
both days of the rally.
Hrabanek said: “This was our first appearance at the Janner
Rally and it is really a difficult and unpredictable winter event. We
have made a good start to this season by winning the first two
Circuit slot cheers ex-IRC champ Meeke
Former Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Kris Meeke says fans
planning to attend the Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally in
April will be treated to two days of thrilling action.
The Northern Irishman spent two hugely successful seasons in the IRC
with Peugeot UK, claiming the title in 2009 before securing third
place in the final standings in 2010. He won a total of five events
during that period.
He said: “As anyone who has watched the series over recent
years on Eurosport will testify, it’s highly competitive and
makes compulsive viewing. “I’m certain [reigning IRC
champion] Andreas Mikkelsen and all the competitors and teams will
receive a warm welcome from the thousands that will attend.”
The Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland counts as round three of the
2012 IRC season from 6-7 April.

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