Two cars conforming to the exciting new R5 technical regulations broke cover last week. Peugeot formally unveiled its 208 Type R5 at the Paris Motor Show while Fords partner team M-Sport released images of the Fiesta R5.
Motorsports world governing body, the FIA, has developed the R5 regulations for national and regional rally championships. Costs will be controlled but the cars, powered by 1.6-litre turbocharged engines, are set to be faster than the 2.0-litre normally aspirated Super 2000 machines, the IRCs headline category.
Peugeot Sports Bertrand Vallat said: The regulations impose, among other things, a maximum price for certain parts and technical limitations such as a minimum weight of components of the chassis and engine. In addition, a certain number of components of the vehicle must be similar. The hub carrier is a perfect example. All four must be identical. This makes operation considerably easier and limits costs and stocking. We are aiming for performance which is slightly higher than that of the S2000. We are also aiming for a very high level of durability and reliability in competition to reduce operating costs.
The 208 Type R5 (right) is due to begin testing at the end of the year with a competition debut set for the second half of 2013. M-Sport, meanwhile, has been working on its Fiesta R5 (left) since May of this year. Like the Peugeot, the Fiesta will run before the end of 2012 although its first competitive outing could take place in the spring of 2013.
The knowledge and experience weve gained from our World Rally Car will be transferred into this car, said M-Sports Malcolm Wilson. Its going to be a great car and very cost effective.
Ten reasons why Rallye Sanremo will thrill
The all-action Intercontinental Rally Challenge resumes on Rallye Sanremo in Italy next week (12-13 October). Here are 10 reasons why the event will be one of the highlights of the 2012 season.
One: Leading IRC runners will go up against some of Italys best drivers making for an intense battle for glory on the challenging mountainous stages.
Two: Legendary Italian driver Paolo Andreucci is back on IRC duty on the event where he has claimed his sole IRC victory to date. Peugeot is still chasing its first IRC win of 2012.
Three: Craig Breen will make his IRC return with Saintéloc Racing. New co-driver Paul Nagle helped Kris Meeke to the IRC title in 2009 by winning in Sanremo.
Four: With the competitive action contained within a 25-hour window, the action will be non-stop.
Five: Kronos Racing, one of the most successful teams in IRC history, will field Harry Hunt in a Peugeot 207, the former IRC 2WD Cup champions Super 2000 debut in the IRC.
Six: The weather can be unpredictable with rain and even fog a possibility on the stages.
Seven: Run under the cover of darkness, the 44-kilometre Ronde Stage is one of the most arduous in the IRC.
Eight: Bryan Bouffier is back in the IRC armed with Peugeots all-new 208 R2, while fellow IRC event winner Bruno Magalhães will also return.
Nine: Sanremo is the last all-asphalt rally of the 2012 season. A high-speed fight is expected.
Ten: Vitaliy Pushkar, an exciting prospect for the future, will compete in the IRC Production Cup.
Co-driver Durant to make full recovery
Robbie Durant, the British co-driver injured in a crash on the Mabanol Sliven Rally in Bulgaria, is set to make a full recovery.
Durant was due to undergo surgery in hospital in Plovdiv earlier this week on a cracked and compressed vertebra before flying home. His driver Harry Hunt was uninjured in the accident on the 11th stage of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge event.
The most important thing is that Robbies injury was not more serious and that he will make a full recovery very soon, said team manager Iwan Evans. Hes in great spirits and were already looking forward to Sanremo, where Harry will drive a Super 2000 car in the IRC for the first time. Following the accident the rally and medical staff were brilliant, so we cant thank them enough.
IRC champion Mikkelsen takes to the track
Reigning Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Andreas Mikkelsen tried a single-seater racing car for size during filming for an upcoming television programme, but admitted afterwards that he was unlikely to swap it for his KODA Fabia Super 2000.
The 23-year-old IRC title leader sampled the Van Diemen Formula Ford car at the Lydden Hill Race Circuit during a private test. He covered approximately 30 laps of the track and didnt make a single driving error despite it being his first experience of the machine.
This was the first time Ive ever driven any type of formula racing car, and it was a great experience, said the Norwegian. It was quite difficult and really different, but the strangest part of it was not having Ola [Fløene, co-driver] sitting next to me and having someone to talk to!
It was also strange to be able to see the tyres move when you change the direction of the steering wheel Ive never experienced that before.
Campana battles Kubica ahead of IRC return
Pierre Campana prepared for his Intercontinental Rally Challenge return by winning the Super 2000 section of Rally Città di Bassano in Italy last weekend where his opposition included Formula One race winner Robert Kubica.
Campana was using the event to prepare for next weeks Rallye Sanremo, which will mark his first outing in the IRC for almost five months since he shone in third overall on Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse live on Eurosport.
While Kubica won the event in a Subaru Impreza World Rally Car, Campana finished in a strong fourth place in a Munaretto Sport Peugeot 207 S2000 alongside co-driver Sabrina de Castelli.
The main purpose of taking part in this event was to reacquaint ourselves with the Peugeot, Michelin tyres and of course to return to competitive rallying, said the 27-year-old Corsican. It was good to be back and in the heat of competition and really useful practice for our participation in Sanremo.
Cyprus Rally excites Mikkelsen
The 2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge will reach its climax on the Cyprus Rally from 2-4 November and current title-winner and leader Andreas Mikkelsen has revealed he is a big fan of the mixed-surface event.
Mikkelsen clinched the 2011 IRC drivers crown in Cyprus following a five-way battle for the title. He said: With gravel and Tarmac switching together all of the time its hard to find the best set-up for the car but you dont mind because of the beautiful landscape you encounter. Its also a really good rally for the spectators because its a nice place to be and its warm and sunny."
Three questions to: Florian Gonon
Ace Swiss prepares for his third Intercontinental Rally Challenge start of 2012 with Saintéloc Racing on Rallye Sanremo.
You won the IRC Production Cup in Sanremo last year. How will that experience help you next week?
Im on terrain I know pretty well, but I wont be starting from scratch like in the Czech Republic. Its a very twisty rally and I have to pay a lot of attention to cornering speed as theyll be higher than the ones last year.
Whats your target for the rally?
I hope Ill be able to up the pace a couple of notches on this occasion, all the more so as Ive have a test session beforehand. Im a bit wary of the night stage of over 40 kilometers where its very difficult to stay concentrated from start to finish. To be at 100 per cent over the whole stage is a real challenge.
Will you be able to learn anything from your team-mate Craig Breen?
I know hes an excellent driver who knows how to share what he experiences behind the wheel. I think well exchange information and I can take advantage of his knowledge. Although hes been through some tough times, hes a talented bloke whos got tremendous potential. Im very happy to be racing in the same team as him.
In the spotlight: Bryan Bouffier
A champion in his homeland and Poland, Frenchman Bryan Bouffier enjoyed something of a breakthrough season in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in 2011 when he won Rallye Monte-Carlo to great acclaim. A trio of podiums kept him in the title until the penultimate round. Despite being armed with bags of experience and pace, a lack of funding has prevented regular IRC appearances this season but the 33-year-old returns in Peugeots all-new R2-specification 208 on Rallye Sanremo.