Robert Consani will start next week’s Cyprus Rally hoping to make history on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge season finale.
Consani can become the first driver to clinch both the IRC Production Cup and IRC 2WD Cup titles in the same year although he will need results to go his way in the former category.
The French ace normally drives a Renault Mégane RS in the IRC. Because the car can only be used on all-asphalt rallies, Consani will switch to his Renault Clio R3 for the mixed-surface Cypriot stages. As a result he will only be able to score IRC 2WD Cup points in Cyprus, which he says will be his main focus in any case.
“I have a 11-point advantage over Harry [Hunt], but it is as if we are starting equal: whoever beats the other will become champion, so at least neither of us has to think about any complicated strategies – it’s just a race to the finish,” said Consani. “The only advantage I have is if we both retire, but I really hope that the title isn’t decided by a retirement and that we can fight to the finish.”
Consani holds a 22-point advantage over Andreas Aigner in the IRC Production Cup. Marco Tempestini and Vitaliy Pushkar are also in contention.
Middle East aces to spice up Cyprus IRC action
A host of drivers from the FIA Middle East Rally Championship will spice up the action when the 2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge concludes in Cyprus next week.
In addition to 2010 Cyprus Rally winner Nasser Al-Attiyah (pictured), Yazeed Al-Rajhi from Saudi Arabia, Roger Feghali from Lebanon and Khalid Al-Suwaidi from Qatar will all be in action on the Pafos-based event from 2-4 November and will all be eligible for IRC points.
One other driver from the regional championship competing in Cyprus will be Nick Georgiou from Lebanon who will chase honours in the IRC Production Cup against series regulars Andreas Aigner, Toshi Arai, Vitaliy Pushkar and Marco Tempestini.
Wicha returns for Cyprus IRC finale
Almost six months since making his last appearance in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, German co-driver Klaus Wicha will be returning to the series for the season-finale in Cyprus.
Rather than partnering countryman Hermann Gassner Jr, who he co-drove on three rounds of the IRC this year, Wicha will be linking up with fellow German Armin Kremer in a Subaru Impreza.
The vastly experienced Wicha hasn’t competed on the Cyprus Rally since 2006 when he co-drove Andreas Aigner. The Austrian will be one of Kremer’s rivals for IRC glory next week.
Kremer and Wicha aren’t the only all-German crew taking part in Cyprus: Sepp Wiegand and Timo Gottschalk will be in action in a ŠKODA Auto Deutschland Fabia Super 2000.
Strong interest in Peugeot’s 208 R2
Peugeot Sport has reported strong interest in its R2-specificaiton 208 following its competition debut on Rallye Sanremo earlier this month.
Bryan Bouffier took the car to a class victory, a result that pleased Peugeot Sport Director Bruno Famin: “We are delighted with the 208 R2’s maiden result. The car was competitive, reliable and consistent in Sanremo from start to finish. It also received a warm welcome in Italy and appears to interest a high number of talented young drivers who dream of becoming the next Paolo Andreucci [who won his seventh Italian title in Sanremo driving a Peugeot 207 Super 2000].”
Peugeot plans to continue the 208 R2’s development on rallies in Belgium and France next month.
Success for IRC aces past and present
Intercontinental Rally Challenge aces past and present have been celebrating success in two prestigious championships recently.
Luca Rossetti, who became known as “Mr 100 Per Cent” after winning four IRC rounds in succession between 2007 and 2008, has clinched the Turkish Rally Championship in a ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, while this year’s Prime Yalta Rally winner, Yağiz Avci, is the new FIA East European Rally Cup champion following his victory on Rally Serbia recently in a Castrol Ford Team Türkiye Fiesta S2000, coupled with the points scored in Yalta and on the IRC’s visit to Bulgaria.
“This title has a very special meaning for me, to win in a country like Turkey where I have many friends and fans is beautiful,” said Rossetti, who came close to a one-off IRC return on the Geko Ypres Rally in Belgium earlier this year.
Three questions to: Menya Krózser
Hungarian privateer on branching out into the IRC
When did you start competing?
“My first year was in 1998. Last year I won the two-wheel-drive title in Hungary and I wanted a bigger target for this season so I chose the IRC.”
How has your maiden season in the IRC gone?
“It’s been difficult because I did not know the rallies and we had technical problems on the first three rallies and retired, which was not so good for our partners and sponsors. Then we got a new car for Barum Czech Rally Zlín and immediately we finished in fourth place.”
What do you do when you’re not competing in the IRC?
“I manage a trading company in Hungary. We have business in other parts of Europe.”
In the spotlight: Johan Heloïse
Johan Heloïse, from Martinique, made his long-awaited return to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge on Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia in June after contesting selected rounds in 2011. A hand injury then prevented him from starting Barum Czech Rally Zlín as planned but he was back for Rallye Sanremo earlier this month where he made it three points finishes from three starts in his Top Run Motorsport Subaru Impreza R4 STI to move into sixth place in the standings alongside French co-driver Thibault Gorczyca.