*KODA pilot secures sixth triumph in Sliven despite late charge by Peugeot ace Gyoshev
*Renault drivers Consani and Slavov clinch support category glory on sun-baked event
Dimitar Iliev, in a KODA Fabia Super 2000, has made it seven different winners in this seasons all-action Intercontinental Rally Challenge with victory on the Mabanol Sliven Rally in Bulgaria today, his sixth on the high-speed asphalt event.
The multiple national champion took the lead on Saturday mornings opening stage and held off a spirited charge from Peugeot 207 S2000 pilot Petar Gyoshev to take first place by a margin 11.2s following 13 asphalt stages. He becomes the first driver from Bulgaria to win a round of the IRC.
Robert Consani claimed the honours in the IRC Production Cup for Renault with Subaru pilot Stoyan Apostolov in second place. Todor Slavov secured the IRC 2WD Cup for the French manufacturer ahead of Hondas Martin Kangur and M-Sport Ford runner Murat Bostanci.
Im very happy because I never did so good result on an IRC round and it sounds good to be the first Bulgarian winner in the IRC, said Vivacom Rally Team pilot Iliev. I drove very carefully today and even though I was not always the fastest this was the right decision because it was more important to finish. This is one of my favourite rallies.
Behind Gyoshev, who was fastest on two stages today for the ASC Prestige team, Krum Donchev snatched the final podium spot from Todor Slavov on Sundays second test and held on despite a spin on the final stage leaving his Peugeot with slight front-end damage. Slavov, meanwhile, secured a resounding victory in the IRC 2WD Cup in his Renault Clio R3, a performance that earned him the coveted Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy.
Todays stages were a little bit too difficult for a two-wheel-drive car, they were quite slippery and uphill and it was not possible to fight against the more powerful cars, said Slavov. Fourth place was the best possible result for this car so we are happy with that. To win the Colin McRae award is very special. He was my idol and I have no words to describe my feelings right now.
Yağiz Avci, the winner of the previous IRC round in Yalta, finished fifth in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 after reporting a minor fuel pump issue. The reigning Turkish champion could have been fourth but for a 20-second penalty incurred following a timing miscalculation on day one.
Martin Kangur rounded out his IRC 2WD Cup campaign in his Catwees Honda Racing Civic Type R in a strong sixth place after Menya Krózser stopped his Clio R3 with a reported technical fault on stage 12. The Hungarian had been more than one minute clear of the Estonian teenager starting the final day.
Murat Bostanci, from Turkey, impressed in seventh place in his R2-specification Fiesta with Robert Consani eighth at the wheel of a Renault Mégane and top IRC Production Cup finisher after a puncture delayed Georgi Vasilev on stage 11. Despite moving to the top of the standings in both the IRC Production Cup and IRC 2WD Cup, Frenchman Consani said afterwards that a persistent power problem meant he couldnt gain any satisfaction from his otherwise successful Sliven debut due to the fact his ultimate speed was masked throughout.
With ninth and 10th place Citroën drivers Anton Titov and Ekaterina Stratieva not eligible for overall IRC points, Stoyan Apostolov took ninth-placed points in his Subaru Impreza with Turk Buğra Banaz next up. Other notable finishers included Taiwanese Yuan-Hu Lin, who took his Clio R3 to 18th place, and Turkish female driver Simin Biçakçioglu who completed the event one place ahead of 16-year-old Bulgarian Mihail Simeonov, who is believed to be the youngest IRC competitor in the six-year history of the series.
IRC Production Cup
With an advantage of more than one minute over Robert Consani after 10 stages, Georgi Vasilev was on course for his maiden IRC Production Cup victory, particularly with a down-on-power engine plaguing Consani. But a disastrous 11th stage, when he suffered a spin following a puncture, left him out of contention and ensured a second consecutive victory for the determined Consani, who now moves to the top of the title standings in his Renault Mégane RS. Subaru Impreza driver Stoyan Apostolov scored two stage wins on his way to second place in the category. Marco Tempestini, one of the favourites for victory before the start, retired following an oil leak on his Impreza R4 STI on day one.
IRC 2WD Cup
Todor Slavov snatched the IRC 2WD Cup lead on stage two and never looked back as he raced to a dominant victory in his Renault Clio R3, going fastest in class on 12 of the 13 stages. Hondas Martin Kangur impressed in second place after Menya Krózser retired his Clio on stage 12. Murat Bostanci was the leading M-Sport Ford Fiesta pilot home in third. Harry Hunts bid to make up for the extensive time loss he suffered when he got beached on day one ended when he crashed heavily into trees on stage 11. Although Hunt was uninjured, his co-driver Robbie Durant has been taken to hospital in Plodiv for surgery on a back injury although he is expected to make a full recovery. Hunts failure to score and Robert Consanis capture of fourth means the Renault driver now heads the IRC 2WD Cup table.
TOP 10 IRC POSITIONS
1 Dimitar Iliev (BGR)/Yanaki Yanakiev (BGR) KODA Fabia S2000 1h48m58.7s
2 Petar Gyoshev (BGR)/Dimitar Spasov (BGR) Peugeot 207 S2000 +11.2s
3 Krum Donchev (BGR)/Petar Yordanov (BGR) Peugeot 207 S2000 +3m25.3s
4 Todor Slavov (BGR)/Dobromir Filipov (BGR) Renault Clio R3 +3m49.9s
5 Yağiz Avci (TUR)/Bahadir Gücenmez (TUR) M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 +4m09.5s
6 Martin Kangur (EST)/Ken Järveoja (EST) Honda Civic Type R +8m04.5s
7 Murat Bostanci (TUR)/Onur Vatansever (TUR) M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2 +10m30.4s
8 Robert Consani (FRA)/Nicolas Klinger (FRA) Renault Mégane RS +12m24.4s
9 Stoyan Apostolov (BGR)/Pavlina Apostolova (BGR) Subaru Impreza WRX +16m05.2s
10 Buğra Banaz (TUR)/Burak Erdener (TUR) M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2 +16m50.8s
IRC Production Cup: Robert Consani (FRA)/Nicolas Klinger (FRA) Renault Mégane RS
IRC 2WD Cup: Todor Slavov (BGR)/Dobromir Filipov (BGR) Renault Clio R3
IRC STANDINGS (BEST OF EIGHT SCORES COUNT, ALL POINTS PROVISIONAL)
IRC drivers after round 11 of 13
1 Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) 136pts; 2 Juho Hänninen (Finland) 93pts; 3 Jan Kopecký (Czech Republic) 83pts; 4 Sepp Wiegand (Germany) 53pts; 5 Giandomenico Basso (Italy) 40pts; 6 Yağiz Avci (Turkey) 35pts; 7 Robert Consani (France) 32pts; 8 Patrik Flodin (Sweden) 28pts; 9 Bryan Bouffier (France) and Umberto Scandola (Italy) 27pts
IRC co-drivers after round 11 of 13
1 Ola Fløene (Norway) 136pts; 2 Mikko Markkula (Finland) 93pts; 3 Pavel Dresler (Czech Republic) 83pts; 4 Timo Gottschalk (Germany) 53pts; 5 Mitia Dotta (Italy) 40pts; 6 Bahadir Gücenmez (Turkey) 35pts; 7 Göran Bergsten (Sweden) 28pts; 8 Guido DAmore (Italy) and Xavier Panseri (France) 27pts; 10 Carlos del Barrio (Spain) and Yanaki Yanakiev (Bulgaria) 25pts
IRC manufacturers after round 11 of 13
1 KODA 325pts; 2 Peugeot 205pts; 3 M-Sport Ford 147pts; 4 Renault 119pts; 5 Subaru 110pts; 6 Honda 51pts
IRC Production Cup drivers after round 11 of 13
1 Robert Consani (France) 97pts; 2 Andreas Aigner (Austria) 75pts; 3 Marco Tempestini (Romania) 63pts; 4 Vitaliy Pushkar (Ukraine) 41pts; 5 Toshi Arai (Japan) 36pts, 6 Garry Jennings (United Kingdom), Ricardo Moura (Portugal), Jarkko Nikara (Finland), and Massimiliano Rendina 25pts; 10 Johan Heloïse (France) 22pts
IRC Production Cup co-drivers after round 11 of 13
1 Nicolas Klinger (France) 97pts; 2 Dorin Pulpea (Romania) 63pts; 3 Daniela Ertl (Austria) 50pts; 4 Ivan Mishyn (Ukraine) 41pts; 5 Dale Moscatt (Australia) 36pts; 6 Sancho Eiró (Portugal), Jarkko Kalliolepo (Finland), Barry McNulty (United Kingdom) and Mario Pizzuti (Italy) 25pts; 10 Thibault Gorczyca (France) 22pts
IRC 2WD Cup drivers after round 11 of 13
1 Robert Consani (France) 87pts; 2 Harry Hunt (United Kingdom) 76pts; 3 Martin Kangur (Estonia) 51pts; 4 Vlad Cosma (Romania) 33pts; 5 Murat Bostanci (Turkey) 30pts; 6 Petru-Antone Boschetti (France), Simone Campedelli (Italy), Jan Černy (Czech Republic), Paulo Maciel (Portugal), Marty McCormack (United Kingdom), Todor Slavov (Bulgaria) and Joan Vinyes (Spain) 25pts
IRC 2WD Cup co-drivers after round 11 of 13
1 Robbie Durant (United Kingdom) 76pts; 2 Nicolas Klinger (France) 62pts; 3 Florin Dorca (Romania) 33pts; 4 Onur Vatansever (Turkey) 30pts; 5 Cédric Beynet (France), Danilo Fapani (Italy), Dobromir Filipov (Bulgaria), Filipe Gouveia (Portugal), Nicolas Klinger (France), Pavel Kohout (Czech Republic), Benoit Manzo (France), Jordi Mercader (Spain), David Moynihan (Ireland) and Andres Ots (Russia) 25pts
IRC 2WD Cup manufacturers after round 11 of 13
1 Renault 320pts; 2 Honda 149pts; 3 M-Sport 115pts; 4 Peugeot 41pts; 5 KODA 35pts
Go to www.ircseries.com for full standings, including IRC Production Cup and IRC 2WD Cup.
SS1: Yağiz Avci
SS2-13: Dimitar Iliev
Day one (Friday 28-Saturday 29 September, 131.93 kilometres):
SS1: SSS Sliven (1.91kms): Overall: Avci/IRC PC: Tempestini/IRC 2WD: Consani
SS2: Mollova Gora 1 (18.08kms): Donchev/Tempestini/Slavov
SS3: Kotel 1 (11.92kms): Iliev/Vasilev/Slavov
SS4: Stara Reka 1 (19.95kms): Iliev/Vasilev/Slavov
SS5: Bulgarka 1 (15.06kms): Iliev/Vasilev/Slavov
SS6: Mollova Gora 2 (18.08kms): Donchev/Tempestini/Slavov
SS7: Kotel 2 (11.92kms): Gyoshev/Vasilev/Slavov
SS8: Stara Reka 2 (19.95kms): Gyoshev/Vasilev/Slavov
SS9: Bulgarka 2 (15.06kms): Iliev/Vasilev/Slavov
Day two (Sunday 30 September, 65.39 kilometres):
SS10: Ablanovo (15.28kms): Gyoshev/Vasilev/Slavov
SS11: Kantona (20.20kms): Iliev/Apostolov/Slavov
SS12: Kipilovo (11.97kms): Iliev/Apostolov/Slavov
SS13: Itchera (17.94kms): Gyoshev/Consani/Slavov
IRC rally wins in 2012 (drivers)
Juho Hänninen 3; Jan Kopecký 2; Andreas Mikkelsen 2; Giandomenico Basso 1; Dimitar Iliev; Dani Sordo 1; Yağiz Avci: 1
IRC rally wins in 2012 (manufacturers)
KODA 8; M-Sport Ford 2; MINI 1 (note: MINI is not currently eligible for IRC manufacturers points)
IRC stage wins in 2012 (drivers)
Andreas Mikkelsen 50; Juho Hänninen 29; Jan Kopecký 20; Giandomenico Basso 7; Dimitar Iliev 6; Freddy Loix 5; Yuriy Protasov 5; Robert Consani 4; Petar Gyoshev 4; Dani Sordo 3; Yağiz Avci: 2; Pierre Campana 2; Krum Donchev 2; Mikko Pajunen 2; Sepp Wiegand 2; Marco Tempestini 2; Germain Bonnefis 1; Bryan Bouffier 1; Patrik Flodin 1; Tomá Kostka 1.
Stage wins in 2012 (manufacturers)
KODA 108; M-Sport Ford 17; Peugeot 15; Renault 4; MINI 3; Subaru 2
NEXT EVENT: Rallye Sanremo, 12-13 October