*KODA extends lead in race for IRC manufacturers‘ crown
*Wins for Subaru and Renault in support categories
Dani Sordo has claimed victory on Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse, round four of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, following a faultless performance in a MINI John Cooper Works S2000 on his debut in the all-action series.
Jan Kopecký beat Corsican hero Pierre Campana in a thrilling battle for second place that raged up until the end of the final stage, one of four shown live on Eurosport. With MINI not registered for IRC manufacturer points, Kopeckýs effort means KODA extends its lead in the battle for makes points, while fifth place for Andreas Mikkelsen ensures the Norwegian continues to top the drivers standings after four action-packed rounds.
Kopecký also secures the prestigious Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy, awarded to the driver who best embodies the spirit of the rallying legend on each round of the IRC. The Czech was fastest on five of Saturdays six stages based north of Bastia.
Elsewhere, Subarus Andreas Aigner marked his return to international competition with victory in the IRC Production Cup. There was a first win in the IRC 2WD Cup for local driver Petru Antone Boschetti, who excelled in his Renault Clio.
While Sordos success was aided when rivals Giandomenico Basso and Mikkelsen both hit trouble earlier in the rally, the Spaniard admitted maintaining his advantage on the tricky Corsican stages was by no means a foregone conclusion.
Im really happy to win this rally but it was really hard, said Sordo. The competition was very strong and even though I was leading I had to keep pushing to keep the concentration up and not make any mistakes. I really like this IRC series; its competitive and is at a high level. And my MINI is also a very, very good car.
Kopecký began day three leading Campana by 4.4s but a sluggish run through stage 11, which he put down to a lack of confidence in his pacenotes, enabled Campana to power ahead. But the Peugeot driver couldnt maintain the place and slipped back with two stages remaining. Kopecký has now made it three podiums out of three starts in this years IRC. I must say I made two mistakes on this rally but to finish second in the end is a good result, he said.
Behind Campana, Bryan Bouffier overcame illness and car-handling issues to finish a strong fourth overall on his first start in the IRC since SATA Rallye Açores in February. He could have challenged for a podium but for a spin on Saturdays opener and a problem with his pacenotes on the next run.
Defending IRC champion Mikkelsen completed a frustrating event in fifth position, his chances of a first IRC win on asphalt evaporating when he went off the road early on day two while leading. Unable to get back into the podium fight due to the excessive time loss, Mikkelsen spent the final day experimenting with various set-up options in readiness for the remainder of the IRC season.
Craig Breens rapid recovery from the delay he suffered with a broken driveshaft on day one netted sixth overall for Saintéloc Racing. Jean Marc Manzagol took seventh on a rare outing, while KODA Auto Deutschlands Sepp Wiegand built on his encouraging start to his IRC campaign with a points finish for the fourth event in a row in eighth place. Red Bull Teams Hermann Gassner Jr overcame a puncture on day one to demote Jean-Mathieu Leandri to 10th on the final stage.
French rising star Mathieu Arzeno had been fifth prior to Fridays closing test only for a differential fault and a puncture to drop him down the order. He finished 11th on the back of several strong stage times. Marty McCormacks competitive debut in a Super 2000 car netted 17th overall after the Northern Irishman lost ground when he picked up two punctures on the same stage on Friday in his Petter Solberg Engineering Fiesta. Oleksii Tamrazov failed to make it to first service within the time limit due to a crank sensor failure on his Dream Team Ukraine Fiesta. Rashid Al-Ketbi finished 22nd in his Skydive Dubai-backed Fabia.
IRC Production Cup
Subaru driver Andreas Aigner marked his return to international competition with victory in the IRC Production Cup. The Stohl Racing driver led from start to finish and, apart from a minor gear lever issue on Friday, nothing troubled the Austrian who underlined his potential with a stirring display. Toshi Arai finished second in a Tommi Mäkinen Racing Impreza with rallying legend François Delecour completing the podium on his debut in the category in a Renault Mégane RS after Jarkko Nikara dropped out with a gearbox fault following stage nine.
IRC 2WD Cup
With pre-event favourites Pierre-Antoine Guglielmi and Emmanuel Guigou both failing to go the distance it was left to Petru Antone Boschetti to claim top honours in the IRC 2WD Cup in his Renault Clio R3. François Delecour added to his success in the IRC Production Cup with second in the two-wheel-drive division. Former category champion Harry Hunt secured his first podium of 2012 in style having lost ground on day one with a fuel pump glitch and a puncture on day two.
TOP 10 IRC POSITIONS AFTER DAY THREE
1 Dani Sordo (ESP)/Carlos del Barrio (ESP) MINI John Cooper Works S2000 3h22m01.6s
2 Jan Kopecký (CZE)/Pavel Dresler (CZE) KODA Fabia S2000 +17.9s
3 Pierre Campana (FRA)/Sabrina de Castelli (FRA) Peugeot 207 S2000 +32.4s
4 Bryan Bouffier (FRA)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Peugeot 207 S2000 +53.5s
5 Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Ola Fløene (NOR) KODA Fabia S2000 +4m19.0s
6 Craig Breen (IRL)/Gareth Roberts (GBR) Peugeot 207 S2000 +5m28.7s
7 Jean-Marc Manzagol (FRA)/Etienne Patrone (FRA) Peugeot 207 S2000 +6m22.1s
8 Sepp Wiegand (GER)/Timo Gottschalk (GER) KODA Fabia S2000 +6m54.8s
9 Hermann Gassner Jr (GER)/Klaus Wicha (GER) KODA Fabia S2000 +7m10.2s
10 Jean-Mathieu Leandri (FRA)/Pierre-Marien Leonardi (FRA) Peugeot 207 S2000 +7m39.9s
IRC Production Cup: Andreas Aigner (AUT)/Daniela Ertl (AUT) Subaru Impreza R4 STI
IRC 2WD Cup: Petru-Antone Boschetti (FRA)/Benoît Manzo (FRA) Renault Clio R3
IRC STANDINGS (BEST OF EIGHT SCORES COUNT)
IRC drivers after round four of 13
1 Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) 71pts
2 Jan Kopecký (Czech Republic) 58pts
3 Juho Hänninen (Finland) 43pts
4 Sepp Wiegand (Germany) 34pts
5 Bryan Bouffier (France) 27pts
6 Dani Sordo (Spain) 25pts
7 Craig Breen (Ireland) 18pts
8 Pierre Campana (France) 15pts
= Luis Monzón (Spain) 15pts
10 Mathieu Arzeno (France) 12pts
= Hermann Gassner Jr (Germany) 12pts
IRC manufacturers after round four of 13
1 KODA 166pts
2 Peugeot 102pts
3 Renault 37pts
4 Subaru 12pts
5 M-Sport 24pts
6 Honda 18pts
Go to www.ircseries.com for full standings, including IRC Production Cup and IRC 2WD Cup.
SS1-2: Giandomenico Basso
SS3-4: Andreas Mikkelsen
SS5-14: Dani Sordo
Day one (Thursday 10 May):
SS1: Pénitencier Coti-Agosta plage (25.89kms): Basso/IRC PC: Aigner/IRC 2WD Cup: Guigou/Guglielmi
SS2: Gare de Carbuccia-Tavera (16.89kms): Sordo and Mikkelsen/Aigner/Guigou
SS3: Sarrola-Plage de Liamone (26.70kms): Campana/Aigner/Guglielmi
Day two (Friday 11 May):
SS4: Le Fangu-ND de la Serra (27.53kms): Mikkelsen/Aigner/Guigou
SS5: Erbajolo-Pont dAltiani 1 (24.57kms): Bouffier/Guigou/Guglielmi
SS6: Barchetta-La Porta (23.24kms): Sordo/Aigner/Cancelled for IRC 2WD Cup
SS7: Taverna-Pont de Castirla (15.28kms): Sordo/Aigner/Hunt
SS8: Erbajolo-Pont dAltiani 2 (24.57kms): Kopecký/Cancelled for IRC Production Cup/IRC 2WD Cup
Day three (Saturday 12 May):
SS9: Macinaggio-Centuri 1 (15.56kms): Kopecký/Aigner/Delecour
SS10: Marinca-Cagnano 1 (28.96kms): Campana/Aigner/Boschetti
SS11: Macinaggio-Centuri 2 (15.56kms): Kopecký/Aigner/Delecour
SS12: Marinca-Cagnano 2 (28.96kms): Kopecký/Aigner/Hunt
SS13: Macinaggio-Centuri 3 (15.56kms): Kopecký/Aigner/Delecour
SS14: Marinca-Cagnano 3 (28.96kms): Kopecký/Aigner/Boschetti
IRC rally wins in 2012 (drivers)
Juho Hänninen: 1
Jan Kopecký: 1
Andreas Mikkelsen: 1
Dani Sordo: 1
IRC rally wins in 2012 (manufacturers)
MINI: 1 (note: MINI is not currently eligible for IRC manufacturers points)
IRC stage wins in 2012 (drivers)
Andreas Mikkelsen: 24
Jan Kopecký: 15
Juho Hänninen: 11
Stage wins in 2012 (manufacturers)
M-Sport Ford: 1
Go to www.ircseries.com for more information.
Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia, 14-16 June 2012